Don’t be an ass, share the wealth, break out some speakers and let the preaching begin.
Cruentator – Ain’t War Hell?
Release – January/10/2018
Italian thrash metal with a blistering blackened speed edge, think the vintage style of Kreator and Sodom then toss in a sprinkling of Razor and you’ll be close.
Heavily accented vocals fit the music perfectly adding just enough evil to keep this miles from traditional thrash boundaries. Truthfully nothing groundbreaking in this release just solid speed and agression that could well have been released 25 years previously with the same impact.
Highly recommended for those who yearn for the return of the golden age of European thrash. With output of a quality such as this these fellows may well champion that very same resurgence.
– Decay into Inferior Conditions
Release – December/8/2017
When I glimpsed the word ‘Master’ in the list of promos that reside in my email I smiled. I’ve been following Speckmann’s musical antics on and off since picking up the Fucking Death Strike and Speckmann Project albums many moons ago (dated in the early 90’s theirs is an illustrious genre defining career). A re-release of the original Master (self titled) on vinyl holds an esteemed place in my colllection. Master’s newest, An Epiphany of Hate, reignited my passion for their output. Add to this the discovery of a new act, Dehuman, featured in the same release thus the fact that I’m jumping on this so soon after receiving it should come as no great surprise.
Admittedly live recordings usually do little for me and I won’t as a general rule muse upon anything live but seems as this is the almighty Master and I missed their appearance in Tucson due to the untimely arrival of my youngest child…
Decay into Inferior Conditions boasts art that’s eye catching to say the least, an amalgamation of vivid styles that drenches the retinas in grotesquery. As for the music, the first four tracks (recorded in Helsinki -Finland) are of an surprisingly good quality with little to no background/crowd noise to ‘ruin’ the proceedings. The tracks themselves are impressive devoid of washy instrumental muddiness (the instruments and the overall mix is clear), and spans a wide swath of Masters recorded career. My only gripe is the absence of my favorite ‘Silver Spoon’, alas beggars can’t be choosers, perhaps one day I’ll be present to witness Master in all their glory. Dehuman’s portion of this split comprises three tracks in a live studio setting. Pummeling, punishing and melodic are the words I would use to describe their style. Slightly akin to mid era Morgoth with nods to old school British death acts tinged with elements of grindcore brutality notably Benediction and Bolt Thrower. All in all a fantastic split. A live set that of an exceptional quality and a fantastic introduction to an act with an arsenal totalling a pair of full lengths and a wicked future ahead.
Inanimate Existence – Underneath a Melting Sky
Release – August/25/2017
The Artisan Era
Tech death is a genre that’s become one of my favorites as of late. However, much like many other areas of the metal spectrum that has managed to garner interest it’s becoming overcrowded. New entries and acts, many boasting their own uniqueness, vying to become the ‘new’ Necrophagist.
With a few releases already to their credit Inanimate Existence can hardly be called newcomers to the genre. With Underneath a Melting Sky they deliver an album that has somewhat of a (evil genius outcast) storyline behind it rather than a traditional standalone track by track approach. Cameron Porras (vocalist/guitarist) offers a few words on the album via his Youtube channel if you’re a fan who likes to delve deeper into an albums meaning.
Given its concept origins the album flows exceedingly well with compositions and arrangements that never seem forced or sound out of sync. In fact every note fits surprisingly well especially since the album transitions styles constantly, showcasing djent, traditional chugging and intricate varied multi paced riffage. Each track sports a different range of emotions for the listener to experience. Atmosphere is plentiful, appears in the finest possible instance and serves only to add to the exceptionalism and overall bliss of the audio journey encased herein. Naturally with its placement in the tech death genre the album sports brutality as well as moments of beauty but what makes this such an unforgettable album is how they interact and play off each other’s presence.
Don’t let the word concept or narrative put you off in any way, shape or form as Underneath a Melting Sky has a great deal to offer the listener. Inanimate Existence, amazingly only a three piece outfit, have crafted a masterpiece deserved of praise from many corners of the metal universe that’s sure you be featured on many a fans best of year list. Another outstanding release from The Artisan Era stable.
Dreadful Fate – The Sin of Sodom (12″ Vinyl)
Release – December/20/2017
Edged Circle Productions
Forget the generic sounding moniker, as I’m sure the name sounds better in Swedish, and go into this with no assumptions and you’ll exit this three track near ten minute recording (it’s an EP/single) eyes wide and sweaty from exhaustion. The bands style is nestled somewhere between early Kreator (the final track here is a cover of Tormentor), vintage Sodom, Show no Mercy era Slayer and the Altars of Madness Morbid Angel album. For those not familiar with any of these albums, please…locate an independantly owned record store (support small businesses folks) lay down some change and prepare to be amazed.
Blackened thrash with diabolical elements, ala Morbid Angel, about covers the vibe of the tracks on offer and I’m happy to report the package is executed with style. Nods to the old school are plentiful the riffs are galloping, mid paced Celtic Frost worshipping in the second track, the drums unrelenting and the vocals snarled giving that evil edge to the overall proceedings.
Keep an eye out for Dreadful Fate for if this is an indication of what’s to follow then they should be on every decerning thrash fans radar.
Inverted Serenity – As Spectres Wither
Release – October/6/2017
It amazes me how some acts remain unsigned when they produce quality recordings. Take for example the newest slab of metal from Inverted Serenity. The album boasts a wide assortment of styles within epic compositions and tracks that shine with exquisite applaudable musical talent and creativity.
Progressive elements blend seamlesslessly with tech death, grindcore-esque moments and spastic paced passages to keep the listener eager. No one track is alike and this is what makes the album work so well. There are tracks that don’t quite work as well as others but overall this is a very solid release that bodes extremely well for the bands future.
Won’t please someone sign this talented bunch and give them the support they rightfully deserve. As Spectres Wither is a fantastic example of tech death that isnt afraid to incorporate other elements to keep it intriguing. Seek this out.
Final Drive – Dig Deeper
Release – February/3/2017
Obviously I had no idea as to what to expect music wise from an albums which depicts a fast car, mountains in the distance and the need to get somewhere fast on its cover art… Thrash perhaps? What I wasn’t prepared for was the style that assaulted my senses after hitting play for the first time. Imagine, if you can, Black Label Society’s musical vibe, an intriguing infectious mixture of doom and hard rock tainted by thrash sensibilities, with elements of Hell Yeah and (the aggression of) Pantera tossed in and you’ll be pretty damn close as what Final Drive offer. The music isn’t so much thrash as it is hard rockin’ groove with driving riffs fueled by the addition of emotionally charged gruff vocals. The tracks composition bring to mind ‘Dimebag’ helmed material with an emphasis on stellar musicianship rather than galloping speed with little inventiveness, sadly par for a slew of genres within the metal spectrum.
The production is top notch which naturally only complements the collection of tunes on offer. Each track lasts just the right amount of length. Ten tracks make for barely thirty-one minutes for an album that manages to keep the interest without once dipping into the perilous wastes of boredomeville.
If you’re in the market for audio that’s slightly different but highly infectious give this a spin, or six. Crank it up. It’s addictive, toe tapping and limb twitchingly good.
Perpetrator – Altered Beast
Release – January/31/2018
From the opening seconds of Altar of the Skull the listener understands they’re in for an unforgettable riff fest of an album.
Silly speed, ala early Vader, raging solos and exciting track composition combine with Ricks vocal style (reminiscent of German thrashers Destruction frontman Schmier) to culminate in an overall style that grabs the attention like a knife to the throat. The music is even easier to move too especially if the thrash scene, circa the late eighties, is an era you yearn for more than your deceased generous grandparents. The album only gets better as it nears its climax. Tracks like Terminal Possession and The Doors of Perception leave the listemer panting out of nrrath. The final track, Black Sacristy, is a Pontius Prophet (never heard of em, altho the band cite they kick ass!) cover which includes some power metal styled vocals (similar to Chemical Wedding era Bruce Dickinson) to especially perk up the interest to leave the listener poised with their finger on the repeat button.
Overall an album you cannot afford to miss, thankfully this is the case as the covers artwork kicks serious glutius and I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been fooled in the past. Keep an ear to the ground for this Portuguese thrashin’ collective and save the pennies for Altered Beast. You won’t be disappointed!
Overoth – The Forgotten Tome
Release – September/22/2017
From the opening track Overoth set a fantastic medieval vibe complete with ominous, thunderous rumblings, angelic choruses and an atmosphere often fueled by the chanting of monks all the while having their sound blanketed by a triumphant aura often steeped in diabolical tones.
The mind starts to wander of possible influence as the album progresses. In one instance one might think Bolt Thrower, in the next symphonic undertones reminiscent of Dimmu Borgir but then also an infernal nature that brings to mind Morbid Angel in their prime. Overall an exquisite mix of punishing symphonic brutality and atmospheric beauty. You cannot ignore Overoth, even though its been seven years between releases it’s been well worth the wait.
Legacy of Emptiness – Over the Past
Release – June/12/2017
Black Lion Records
If this albums wraparound artwork doesn’t yank your attention with its stunning depth, dual vivid natures and sinister undertones I don’t know what to say. In all honesty this art somewhat reminds me of similar imagery found in Mist of Misery releases (which incidently are all wholly recommendable).
But what about the music? “Get on with it.”
I hear a distant whisper growing to a discernable growl in the bleachers.
What’s makes this album remarkable are the melodies. Melancholic and classic, in a sense, they stand apart from more traditional black metal affairs by being more easily comprehendable and pallettable to most who aren’t die hard purists of the scene. The album also submerges into folk rhythms to great effect, unpredictable for sure but it works. With all this being said the vocals are of blackened (metal) sensibilities wholly dechiperable though often transcend boundaries into death/doom realms leaving the listener to ponder upon Thy Mourning Beloveth and incredibly even at times certain Paradise Lost tunes.
Into the Eternal Pits of Nothingness is an early standout, a grandiose affair, overflowing with emotion and power that will be celebrated for many moons to come. Drawn by Nightmares wears an Akercocke cloak of many colors like a second skin accompanied by Emperor like symphonic undertones and stabbing Gothic riffage it makes for yet another track that warrants repeated listens and praise from the highest peaks. If harsher black metal is your thing There Was a Man starts out on the right footing with majestic brutality and lightning paced chords. It soon transforms into more symphonic waters but then drifts back to the blackened shoreline as it reaches its climax.
Diversity shines through in many tracks, never let it be said that Legacy of Emptiness are a one trick pony, smack the fool who argues otherwise. Four Hundred Years makes this point for me it sways with melody yet still boasts brutality even though the pace at its fastest is mid tempo, altogether remarkably and reminiscent of early Amorphis though altogether unique in its own way.
The album comes to its close with some classical piano tinkling, in Transition, and then Evening Stars. Quite unlike the remainder of the release it sports bouncy/cheerful quazi power metal type symphonics as well blistering riffs and several vocal styles (whispered clean, blackened low growl and distant screams) to bring an collection of tracks to a close that the listener will only want to spin again and again in order to better grasp the intricacies of each track.
From the Past is altogether yet another highly recommended disc from the Black Lion Records stable. Delicately crafted and a pleasure to lose oneself in its sure to earn it’s mention on many a ‘best of’ year-end list.
And just when you thought it was safe to remove the headphones something plucked from the murky depths of Bandcamp…
Old Thunder – You Will Be Hated
Release – December/8/2017
It’s hard what to initially think when you see a picture of the band, in this case just the one member, decked out in plaid in the middle of a field bearing no indication of the usual metal paraphernalia. There’s no embellishment of grisly imagery upon his torso, his limbs bear no studded metal and his face is sans corpse paint. It truly is as if Dustin Grooms is just a regular/normal fellow. But then there’s the artwork (to the album in question). Much like a vast percentage of a huge portion of the extreme metal arena this guy has an opinion on religion, don’t we all. This image only leaves me more intrigged as to the musical style on offer.
The album starts out on a crust note of sorts with Devour the Sheep, a fantastic straight to the point paced track to get those limbs twitching. The speed slows a tad with the title track though like the infectious nature the angst is still very much present. Perhaps a little ‘long in the tooth’ my only qualm with this track is that it’s a little drawn out but otherwise excellent.
Stone and Ink bears some of the albums first more notable ‘sludge’ characteristics. The pace is slower and the grind/crust element is at a minimum. A great track that shows diversity in the bands arsenal.
Flames and Fortitude is the first track to run into epic lengths, an early favorite with its driving riffs, quazi hardcore- esque feel albeit with a raw edge and head nodding nature. It helps to ease the listener into the second half of the album.
Unlike the first the second half boasts more a melancholic nature, a doom/death vibe. The production is markedly different, making for a sound which appears recorded in a cavernous like setting. Altars is reminiscent of early works carved by Lee Dorian in a Cathedral (the band) settings with Thy Mourning Beloveth elements tinged with a blackened death aggression. Another standout with a mid section that punches the listener in the gut unexpectedly.
Thrones & Thieves pulls the listener in immediately with the emotion nature of a distortion laden slow plucked guitar. It continues to hold the attention throughout (over ten mimutes) with exquisitely executed solemn aura and unhurried pacing. A high point for an album that delivers music of an unexpectedly high calibre across a number of genres in the darker arena of the metal scene.
Complete with a very palleable bonus track, Ashes & Dust, this is a release that warrants a place in any open minded metal fans collection.
Keep an eye on the direction of Old Thunder in the future.
Well, I appear to have gotten carried away with this installment and my enthusiasm, you’ll be glad to know that’s about it for now folks. Until next time keep those minds and eyes open for new talent.
Your slave to audio extreme, indecent and often so fast it’ll melt the hooves from under Santa’s reindeer.
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