First Impressions 15: Cultural Warfare, Ironflame, Pulverized, Wasteland Riders, Aborted, Kosmogyr, SkeletonWitch, Thulsa Doom, Vreid, Introtyl, Murderline, Infernal Coil & BryhtNoth

Metal, metal, and yet more metal.
Take my hand and accompany me as I traverse the dimly illuminated path ahead fraught with all manner of curiosities.

Cultural Warfare – Warmageddon
USA
Release – September/14/2018
M Theory Audio

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Artwork – 6.5
That evil looking thing looks like the gadget used to clean the blockage I had in my toilet about a year ago. Suffice to say it’s braver than I, vicious looking and it will more than probably be doing my job in less than five years (ouch!). Suffice to say I wouldn’t Fuk with it.
First Track – 7
Obvious influences (Flotsam and Jetsam, Exodus, Overkill, Testament and Metal Church) propel this track into familiarity territory. And although it doesn’t re-invent the wheel it’s the calibre of the music, the impressive vocals and the driving riffs and rhythm which keep it listenable.
Initial Listen – 6.5
A strong start, overall familiarity, a fantastic vocal range, progressive touches and a ballad of sorts keep this interesting but far from the wow element required to help it stand out from what’s come before and the amassed hordes of those who jostle for rank amidst the genre itself.
Decent thrash with varied tendencies and rhythms to get one moving but really nothing to get too excited about.

Ironflame -Tales of Splendor and Sorrow
USA
Release – October/11/2018
Dive bomb Records

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Artwork – 7.5
This image tells a tale of victory and sorrow, glory and defeat. But what does the music say?
First Track – 9.5
To answer the question, it speakd for itaelf. Outstanding melody and rhythms toss the listener back to the heyday of speed laced heavy metal ala early Halloween and Iron Maiden. This is infectious audio…And what a set of pipes!
Initial Listen – 9.5
I can’t believe I haven’t heard of Ironflame before now. This is heavy metal/speed metal the way fans (I) remember it. Epic narrative and riffs you can’t help but move something to.
Think Riots Thundersteel mixed with Chemical Wedding era Dickenson and the best Iron Maiden have to offer with some Dio fronted Black Sabbath riffs tossed in as the icing on the cake and you’ll be close to what’s delivered here. In essence this album delivers beyond awesome tunage so much so that I am blown away!
Discover this at your next opportunity.
A must listen, but I’m not through praising it quite yet. Unfathomable to think it’s all conceived by one guy (the vocalist, as if his prowess in that realm wasn’t enough) with a little assistance on the guitar front.
Outstanding!!!

Pulverized – Monuments of Misanthropy
Chile
Release – October/13/2018
Krucyator Productions

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Artwork – 7.5
There’s a storm brewing within which you’ll need a damn sight more than merely a brolly to keep yourself safe. Skulls, skulls and jagged rock formations. I only wonder what manner of audio this image encapsulates.
First Track – 8
Whirlwind melodies, pulverizing drum salvos and wicked vocals. The plethora of influence is unmistakable but it’s the way in which it’s mashed together and molded that’s impressive. A great start!
Initial Listen – 8
Rolling thunder death metal oozing with influence both Eutopean and American (both north and south) with the occasional maniacal wrangling, ala` Morbid Angel, tossed in for effect. The album has a pleasing fury and fuidity about it that should please both long time and newer fans of the genre. Smash those piggy banks open and dig in the couch for change in exchange for this one.

Wasteland Riders – Death Arrives
Spain
Release – February/24/2018
Diabolic Might Records

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Artwork – 6.5
I’m getting a Mad Max/The Hills Have Eyes vibe. Is that an inverted cross in their logo? This could be an interesting audio sojourn, but I could be wrong, it’s happened before.
First Track – 8
This throws me back to the Decimator sound from the 80’s with a Venom edge and a Whipstriker blackened aura. I’m hooked, this is deviously wicked audio!
Initial Listen – 8
This could well be the soundtrack to the apocalypse. It would certainly have paired well with the short-lived Blood Drive series. Carnage, cars and sex, what else could you possibly wish for? The bands name is spot on. Is this blackened speed or thrash? I’ve ever heard the term “motor thrash” tossed around. It certainly has bite and darker vocals typically associated with the darker end of the metal spectrum. No matter it’s moniker, it’s catchy, infectious and probably shouldn’t be cranked in rush hour traffic lest one gets an irresistible urge to throw caution to the wind and raise the middle finger to traffic laws. I believe these guys would be the perfect accompaniment to GWAR on tour. What an Fn’ spectacle that would be!
Keep an ear out for this!

Aborted – Terror Vision
Belgium
Release – September/21/2018
Century Media Records

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Artwork – 9.5
Grisly, vivid and drenched in a vintage technicolor aura (think the original Mars Attacks card set) then there’s the menacing sci-fi element and gore. What more could you ask for…Seriously, I want this emblazoned across my chest.
First Track – 9
Brutal, technical death with exciting riffage and shifting structure, a diverse vocal approach and narrative/story lyrics that work effectively. A fantastic start to, admittedly, my first experience with a band I should have taken the time to explore before now.
Initial Listen – 9
A stunning creation that mixes just the right amount of progressive elements (a little synth experimentation) and brutality to keep the listening experience highly enjoyable and easy to lose oneself in rather than blanketing blast beat suffocation. The music is varied in its intensity and bounces from transfixing passages bursting with atmosphere and melody to Slam to grindcore to technical death without losing itself for too long in any one realm, which many acts are guilty of, often leading to disinterest and frustration. I hear a definite Benighted presence here amidst sprinkles of other influence that aren’t at all overpowering, in fact an aura that’s welcomed in a genre overcrowded with imitators with little creativity of their own.
Highly recommended! With the calibre of this in mind I’m taking time out to sift through the Aborted catalogue. Wish me luck.

Kosmogyr – Eviternity
Shanghai, China/Prague, Czech Republic
Release – March/9/2018
Independent – Digital

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Artwork – 6
I’m honestly not even sure what I’m looking at. Perhaps this is one of those images where the harder you look the sillier you feel..?
Moving on…
First Track – 8
A Goblin-esque synth melody transforms to aid a violin/cello classical opening worthy of note. Then the main course commences, melodic, tight rhythms decidedly black metal in nature with surprisingly clean production, traditional rasped vocals and an overall (hardly noticable really) slight leaning towards the death genre on account of the drum precision (and their place in the exciting mix). A great start – majesty and atmosphere blanketed by an epic narrative.
Initial Listen – 8.5
Wholly not what I expected, but perhaps I went into this with narrow assumptions. The first track doesn’t give much away in regards to the nature of the album and where it whisks the listener. Amidst the myriad of influences and styles on offer a seasoned fan may well detect notes of Katatonia, Paradise Lost, and dare I say also smidgens of a progressive elements nestled amongst, in instances, more noticable doom/melancholy environments. Overall an brilliantly executed example of just how diverse black metal can be while still maintaining the aura that fans of the scene will be easily able to digest without complaint.

SkeletonWitch – Devouring Radiant Light
USA
Release – July/20/2018
Prosthetic Records

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Artwork – 6.5
Did my security light just come on illuminating a very large individual dressed in ill fitting garb bending over a tombstone? But more importantly what’s a tombstone doing in my back yard, nevermind the obese fellow? …I’m all kinds of confused. And a little frightened if truth be told.
First Track – 8
I’m honestly not sure what I was expecting, but I’m pleasantly surprised. This is an interesting combination that isn’t too heavy in any one area but is unmistakably darker, in atmosphere and tone, than their precious output, thus far anyhow. Is it just me or does anyone else decipher an Opeth-esque vibe in here also?
Initial Listen – 8
Unmistakably SkeletonWitch in tone even with the fresh talent in the throat department and the distinct new direction chosen. There’s something else, other than the applaudable decision to experiment with the sound/style and the willingness to take the plunge into mysterious depths, a confidence perhaps? Whatever it is this album is a step in the right direction pulling me back into the SkeletonWitch fold.
Meloncholy, majesty, swift riffs, a grandiose nature and sporting more depth than I ever imagined a SkeletonWitch album could. I don’t known how long this’ll last but I’m liking what I hear and my interest is piqued. I of the mind that this’ll grow on me the more I listen. Here’s to another spin and further exploration of the covers image. Just what is it anyway..?

Thulsa Doom – Realms of Hatred
Italy
Release – December/7/2018
Invictus Productions

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Artwork – 8
Crude, diabolical and reeking of the old school.
Color me intrigued.
First Track – 8
(Not to be confused with the Norwegian Heavy Metal band bearing the same name).
Menacing swift chaotic riffage and a menacing atmosphere channeling a Morbid Angel style and the occasional riff which is pleasingly familiar, yet nestled in a track which is inciteful and powerful enough to make the listener stand up and take note.
Initial Listen – 8.5
Maniacal wranglings and a diabolical temperment with minimal chuggery, Troops of Doom styled drum rhythms and surprisingly, rather than be merely a carbon copy of the glaringly obvious influences, also including Venom and Sodom, it’s an album that’s well crafted sporting influence that one might not expect as well as aforementioned. Sure to carve a smile on any fans face who longs for classical menace that drips homage to those who dwell beneath and a little less of the same old, same old. This would be great samdwiched between Altars of Madness and Blessed are the Sick.

Vreid – Lifehunger
Norway
Release – September/28/2018
Season of Mist Records

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Artwork – 9
That moon is awfully bloody low and sinister. Is that ‘Reaper’ riding an antelope? Regardless, it’s spooky as all get-up and has me more than eager to hit play to discover a band that before now I’ve not heard much about.
First Track – 9
A brilliant accoustic intro leaves me salivating and somewhat uplifted although it also bears an ominous, melancholy air. Following the intro blackened triumphant blast beats that soon transform into melody and a plethora of intertwining extreme, and not so extreme, styles which I didn’t expect but it works and leaves a lasting impression. A great start!
Initial Listen – 9
For those intrigued Vreid is Norwegian for ‘wrath’. ‘Lifehunger’ offers up a great deal to be excited about for those, like me, who might only now be discovering the band and their style. With influences spread throughout the metal spectrum ranging from Dissection, Belakor and Amorphis there might be some surprise when progressive elements are showcased center stage, but it works. Vreid have a definite knack for composing ‘out of the box’ while in the same instance holding the attention be it through a straight for the jugular riff assault or audio that doesn’t quite fit what’s considered the traditional black metal mold. Diverse, enthralling with each track boasting a unique identity. Seek this out especially if you prefer your extreme audio to be varied in scope and influence. Surprisingly good!

Introtyl – Creation of Insanity
Mexico
Release – June/16/2018
Concreto Records

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Artwork – 7
Dan Seagrave awesomeness if I’m not mistaken. I probably am. An image that oozes archaic ritualistic shenanigans putting me in mind of Benediction’s Transend the Rubicon. Fingers crossed someone remembered salsa and chips.
First Track – 8
My eyes are open, and I’m payimg attention. Shredding tight rhythms and excellent guttural vocals have me eager for what the remainder of this album has to offer. An impressive opener.
Initial Listen – 8
Plenty of melody to please those for a hankering for brutality bursting with rhythm and the occasional passage of groove. Although this offers nothing truly ground breaking to fracture the genre even further it delivers from start to finish and will incite movement.
Recommended for fans of Vader, Nervosa, Vomitory, Benediction and Cannibal Corpse.
Did I mention the vocalist is especially worthy of comment? Not merely because she keeps up with her male counterparts, her approach is impressive, but because her contribution as well the percussion combine to make this an act to keep an ear out for.

Plucked Screamin From Metal Past:

Murderline – Evil Has no Shape
Mexico
Release – May/5/2017
Independent

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Artwork – 7
Wicked BnW imagery that reminds of the movie Ruins. Skulls, vines and bones makes for vegetation that you might wanna steer clear of.
First Track – 8.5
I honestly wasn’t expecting much, however I’m pleased to report this track shreds! ‘Dirty’ (but surprisingly clean, huh? allowing each instrument a voice) old school production with fantastic transforming pace and guttural vocals which take no prisoners. Bludgeoning skin bashing only adds to the fun. Only one track but and I’m already of the understanding that this is an album I will spin again and again.
Initial Listen – 7.5
Fast paced meat and potatoes style death metal with plenty of changing rhythms, vicious intent riff assaults and even a few intricacies. The mix is an appreciated touch and serves to let driving riff passages breathe and not a single element overshadow another. Influences are hardly a challenge to decipher but yet the album has a uniqueness, that doesn’t come solely from the pleasing fact that Murderline are an all-female outfit. A great showing sure to please fans of Deicide, Cannibal Corpse and brutal yet decidedly still melodic death metal. With a few polishing touches and only a little work Murderline could well be a force to be reckoned with. I’m interested as to the direction they take following this release.

Reccd’ by Void
(Add Mr Bean WTF meme here)

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Infernal Coil – Within a World Forgotten
USA
Release – September/14/2018
Profound Lore Records

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Artwork
The bands logo looks like a squished indecipherable, much like a boot squished spider as far as the image goes a forest scene is depicted, complete with a stream. All drenched in muted/waning light. Dusk is approaching bringing with it an unfathomable lumbering diabolical menace. Or something along those lines. A classic image nevertheless that gives off little impression and indication of the audio to be found within. Is it black metal of the atmospheric kind? Or something darker still?
My Thoughts
From the very first this album bludgeons with an unmerciless assault, a suffocating intensity that makes an instant impression. These guys aren’t here to fuck around and this isn’t pretty.
The album has melody, for sure, but it’s intricate buried beneath layers of unrelenting chaos, a storm of riffs waging war against a drum salvo that rarely let’s up. Rhythms beg to be discovered by the brave those only foolhardy enough to weather the storm. A brief respite invokes an ancient aura that speaks of desolation, hints at sacrifice and whispers of a civilization lost to the passing of time. In effect a welcome break from the vicious barrage on the senses the album otherwise delivers.
Is this grindcore meets black metal or funeral doom wrapped in black metal them basted in grindcore sensabilities, the verdicts out.
My Final Verdict
Many may be turned away by the cavernous, claustrophobic nature and sonic landscape this album provides. Its intimidating to say thr least. However, for those willing to stick around the album has a great deal to offer, cheif among this audio that allows the listener more of an insight, a realization that blossoms, with repeated listens if you will. It also seethes with highly effective intense atmosphere, a cavernous nature mixed with celestial leanings stretching far and above that of the common garden extreme metal release.
Whatever the opinion this is an album that oozes with an archaic nature of a quality and presense rarely heard and all of the calibre that warrants discovery. A collection of tracks that will no doubt leave an impression on account of several reasons not least among them the fact that you might wish to purchase additional insurance before placing this between your ears. In short, Brutality basted in brilliance and menace. You have been warned!

ByrhtNoth – Brethren to the Fire Trumpets
Australia
Release – June/21/2018
Wolfspell Records

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Artwork
This gent seems to be on mission traipsing as he is through fog blanketed locales. Perhaps his reached his destination? A building that appears rather foreboding jutting out as it does from a hilllsude with its pitch black angular appearance. Regardless of what’s transpiring this image has a fantasy esque allure to it draped in menace and I’m diggin it.
My Thoughts
This wasn’t exactly what I assuming it might be, it isn’t raw, bestial themed and/or particularly abrasive audio, though it does have a ‘black’ mystique about it (an element I’m sure first attracted and drove my Canadian corpse paint loving friend in its direction) albeit that’s more a companion in the background to an overriding cinematic synth score that’s impactful, effective and hard to ignore. Although with that in mind the last but final track has more a vocal approach than others which tosses it back into atmospheric blackened metal territories. Occasional passages, for some reason, remind me of splatteriffic celluloid directed by ironically the same person who tackled exhaustive adaptions of the realms on which this audio is based. Much like the texts and cinema associated with the Tolkien universe this also boasts an ‘epicness’ about it that warrants attention for it’s entirety as opposed to an album you can dissect at your listening pleasure.
My Final Verdict
It’s odd that I find this strangely relaxing especially because it was tossed to me by way of a gent who dwells in audio realms most deem unapproachable. Although it seethes with darkness it also bears a cinematic quality about it that is easy to sink into and would, I believe, serve as an excellent audio accompaniment to creating (in my case painting miniatures, though it’s been forever since I have) as it isn’t distracting, oddly enthralling and hypnotic for sure, but rather audio that incites a certain mood miles from that which extreme audio usually invokes.
In conclusion, I’ll return to this when I wish my pallet cleansed and perhaps even when I find time enough to put life in metal based figurines, it’s the dotting of the eyes that does it. And I have no qualms in reccommending this to others with an open mind and a willingness to explore all that those with extreme audio urges wish to offer however they chose to package it.

Cult

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