Monday, 8 February 2016

Brutality - Sea of Ignorance

BRUTALITY - Sea of Ignorance (REPULSIVE ECHO - CD 2016)
So, Brutality is back for good, it seems. 1996 was the year, when they unleashed their last full length album (“In Mourning”). Then they split up for few years, even tried to come back several times, but it wasn’t until 2013, when “Ruins of Humans” EP came out and was their first officially released new recording in 17 years. And finally in January 2016 Repulsive Echo putted out “Sea of Ignorance”, which is a fourth Brutality album! Good news, although such comebacks from the grave will always bring a lot of scepticism. And we have right to feel that way, you know? Some of these comebacks are just pointless and nothing but unnecessary waste of time and money. There are many examples, but I will be kind enough not to mention them here. But not all are shit and some reunions actually brought us a crushing piece of death metal, with new albums as good as their 90’s stuff. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to hear “Ruins of Humans” EP, so on one hand I was also quite sceptical towards Brutality comeback, but on the other I was also approaching the album with clear mind, with not much expectations. But I kept saying I won’t comment it before I hear the album fully. And now, after few days of playing “Sea of Ignorance” I can say just one thing: welcome back, Brutality! This new album is just really damn good, it surely is not a waste of time, it surely is not a waste of money and more so, it let me feel that these guys still know how to compose some killer death metal tunes.
From the very first song, up to the final minutes we’re dealing with crushing, absolutely perfectly composed and performed death metal. My first thought on this record was that it’s surprisingly melodic. It has quite many harmonious leads, many slower, kind of calmer passages, which only make the music more interesting and varied. Oh, just take a listen to such fantastic piece as “48 to 52”. How great is this song, almost epic sometimes, damn! I love some of these almost memorable, catchy, melodic riffs, as well as these slow, heavy parts. And that guitar solo near the end – masterpiece! Oh, what a pleasure is to hear this band in such a good form! The title track is another one, which brings so much pleasure to my ears, also because of these awesome fast, blasting parts. Well, if you listen to this album carefully, then you’ll realize that it basically has everything we all love about death metal and is very well balanced. It’s fast (“Sea of Ignorance”, “Fatal Cure”) and slow (“48 to 52”, “Perpetual Resolution”), it’s brutal, but other time it’s melodic and very catchy. It is technical, but not too technical, so it still has this old school feeling here and there, which I personally can only compare to Disincarnate and some of the earlier Death albums. The vocals are beastly, drumming is precise as fuck… and well, did I mention those fuckin killer guitar solos and almost progressive touch here and there? Yes, I did, but James Murphy must feel envious haha! The songs are never monotonous and one dimensional, they’re always filled with many different tempos, riffs, ideas, etc.
I just love how everything sounds here. Not only the song structures seem to be far from typical and banal, but the riffs are just crushing and the whole album sounds very interesting. On top of everything, the production of “Sea of Ignorance” is just splendid. Of course it’s nothing like the old Morrisound productions, which I guess many would love to hear. Instead “Sea of Ignorance” sounds very modern, very heavy, powerful and tight. When you play this album loud, then you literally can watch the walls crackling and windows shaking.
Oh man, I must say that I am very, very pleased with “Sea of Ignorance”. This is almost perfect death metal album and I would never guess that my impression towards Brutality anno 2016 will be so positive. I had the same feeling last year, whe n I heard Morgoth’s “Ungod” LP, for which I also had rather bad feelings about, but which turned out to be simply fantastic. “Sea of Ignorance” is even better, I guess this may be my favourite Brutality album, although it’s hard to compare the old days and present time, compare “Scream of Anguish” and “Sea of Ignorance”. Two different times, basically two different bands, even if the logo is the same. Fuck it, who cares. I can sincerely recommend this new album to all death metal maniacs. You will not be disappointed, I can guarantee.
Oh, one more thing I have to say. Technically this album is rather short, as it’s just around 30 minutes, which is not much, if you hear seven killer songs and want more. Another, additional 10 minutes though come with… Bathory cover. Well, I must say I didn’t expect to hear something like “Shores in Flames” here. As much as I love old Bathory, this song just doesn’t fit death metal and lyrics dealing with modern social problems like overpopulation, diseases, religion, etc. On the other hand though I have to say that Brutality performed this cover just fantastically. They did it their own way, but kept its epic atmosphere and even some of the necessary clean vocals lines, which were sang very well by… sorry, but I have no idea if Scott Reigel sang these parts or someone else did, but they do sound very close to the original Quorthon’s tone of voice. So, the cover is generally very, very good, but it just doesn’t fit to this album, in my opinion, especially as it’s not the last, but one before last song, which is even odder. Anyways, if this cover was to make the album even more varied, then it did great job. But I’ve already seen that many comments, which share my opinion, so… it’s here though, so let’s leave this discussion aside.
Haha, I have one more conclusion – this album sounds so much fresher and better than most of the albums that in the past years were recorded my long running death metal bands. what does it mean?
Standout tracks: “48 to 52”, “Sea of Ignorance”, and more!

Final rate: 85/100

Redgrin - Strength in Death

REDGRIN - Strength in Death (Self financed CD 2013)
This CD I got recently from Markus, singer of Redgrin. He’s really cool dude, who in the 90’s used to be a member or thrash / death band called Odious and death metal band Uncreation. Redgrin though is completely new thing, formed few years ago and “Strength in Death” is the first album of the band. I have to say that I never even seen any reviews or any other info related to Redgrin, so I am not sure how many people would know them, but maybe this review will make some of you interested.
Surely they’re good and worthy band, but only in case if you like groovy, kind of modern sounding thrash / death metal, with almost sort of core’ish vibe in some parts. And well, I have to be honest – personally I’m not so much into such kind of music, especially as that death metal influence is just minimal in my opinion haha! But I can hear some good riffs and songs on “Strength in Death” anyway, so at least I cannot say that the time spent on this album was wasted ha! Nope. Definitely there are quite few moments, when Redgrin reminds me early Fear Factory, with some of these heavy groove and specific riffs and rhythms, even the way Markus combines growls with clean vocals. On other time it can sound like Grope, Konkhra and from death metal scene I can probably mention Gorefest from “Erase” album. I’m not an expect from such stuff, but I hope I came up with comparisons that actually make sense.
Well, as I said before, I quite like some of these songs, but generally I’m not so much into this sort of riffs or vocals (which combine growl, scream and deep, cleaner vocals). When played loud though, this album gets a nice powerful and energetic feeling, which is underlined by very good production of “Strength in Death”. And of all the songs, “Sperrfeuer” is my favourite track. It’s killer piece, which even has a small Swedish death metal influence (Grave) mixed with the mentioned Gorefest and the result is heavy as fuck. Also such “Rebellion Proof” belongs to the tracks, which I liked the most. On occasions the band starts to sound a bit repetitive, to be honest, or I’m just tired with the formula of these riffs they play, but that’s just me. All in all, decent album it is.
Standout tracks: “Sperrfeuer”, “Rebellion Proof”

Final rate: 60/100

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

La Sanche - Death Magick

LA SANCHE - Death Magick (GRUFT Prodüktion MC 2014)
La Sanche is a weird name for death metal band, you have to agree, but their music is damn better than you would expect. They’re from Texas and all three members were involved also in some other acts. It’s enough if I say that Bjorn Haga was involved also in fuckin Necrovore, right? Also such names as Blood Storm, Thornspawn and Hod are in their biographies. “Death Magick” is for La Sanche a debut recording, putted out on cassette by Polish Gruft Prodüktion. And damn, I am so happy to have a copy of this quite rare piece of death metal, as the music shreds.
There are just four tracks, but their intensity and viciousness are impressive. And like I wrote in the other review of mine: I like atmospheric metal a lot, but there’s nothing better, when the music really kicks you in the face and knocks you out with pure aggression, wickedness and ferocity. La Sanche does the job brilliantly. Their music is often so fuckin fast, so brutal, sometimes almost on verge of fast black metal, but with growled vocals... They can shred with something fast and then come up with Morbid Angel-like slower piece and believe me, it just all clicks perfectly. And yes, Morbid Angel can be La Sanche’s influence, but it’s great that the band has something more to offer than just that. You’ll even hear a bit of melody here and there, but the majority of their stuff is just pure, relentless aggression, furious and fast as hell quality death metal. I love songs like “Beneath the Cold Azure Waves” (which is a fuckin tornado!) and “Paladine Transference”, which are on side A, side B’s “Vascellum Daemone” is also killer. And only “Blood and Soil”, which is sort of bonus song, is a bit weaker, maybe due to rawer production, which surely is not as powerful as the rest of the stuff from this cassette. I mentioned Morbid Angel, I guess I should also add Vader, Diabolic, etc to that list. Whatever dude. I just love their riffs, sharp as razor, brutal and furious and that dark, sinister aura of the music. Excellent!
And you know, I’m surprised that such a good material has only been released on small quantity cassette. It deserves more attention and vinyl and CD version also, so maybe someone from my contacts who have record labels will be interested in putting this killer out? Kurwa, you definitely should. It’s also shame that the band doesn’t show up in the underground more often, either in the zines, webzines or wherever. I have no idea if they’re just not interested in any promotion or what? Anyways, I sincerely like “Death Magick” a lot. It’s great stuff and I can only hope that La Sanche will get more attention soon.
Standout track: “Beneath the Cold Azure Waves”

Final rate: 80/100

Sinister - Hate

SINISTER - Hate (NUCLEAR BLAST - CD 1995)
Mid to late 90’s was a shit time for death metal maniacs. Not many bands were spoiling them with truly killer records. Let’s be honest; majority of bands wimped out badly, some changed their style too drastically, some other just couldn’t deliver albums, which would be as impressive as their earlier recordings… Obviously there were still few bands around, which were capable to deliver real goods, but they were mostly bands from the second row, like Dismember, Fleshcrawl, Vomitory, Vader, Monstrosity, to name just few… and obviously also Sinister was still very impressive. Previously they released two absolutely killer albums and finally in 1995 the time came for “Hate”! Just before this CD was released, there were some line up changes, sadly this is also the last album, which Sinister did with the original vocalist Mike van Mastrigt, who left just after “Bastard Saints” EP… So, maybe this is why I also think that past-“Hate” Sinister is no quite as good anymore… OK, “Aggressive Measures” is still damn strong, but I cannot say the same about some other stuff Sinister did. So, “Hate” is also the last Sinister album I really, really like a lot.
There are some absolutely fantastic tracks here and some of the most vicious and aggressive, evil sounding pieces that Sinister ever did in their long career. Already the opening track “Awaiting the Absu” is a real crusher, starting with a killer blasting part that immediately puts Deicide from that same era to a shame. But this song is not only about blasts; there’s a lot of diversity, so there are some slower, almost melodic parts also (well, listen to the ending parts of this track! What an obscure, occult atmosphere has been created there!), some almost catchy bits, including a killer chorus, where I always growl along with Mike haha! And most importantly, this is truly a powerful song. When played loud it really unleashes fury, aggression and destruction. Damn, it’s among my favourite Sinister tracks for sure. Another killer is “To Mega Therion”, whose description should basically be the same as for “Awaiting the Absu” – the atmosphere in this song is also very dark and satanic and the riffing is simply brilliant, so is the chorus part also. Finally I need to mention “The Cursed Mayhem”, another savage and beast of a song…
Some other truly awesome songs are “Embodiment of Chaos” and “18th Century Hellfire” – very characteristic for Sinister, when speaking of the riff / arrangement style, but I feel like they’re even more vicious, venomous and nasty than the stuff from “Diabolical Summoning”. They sound really raw, even if the production is quite clean, but damn… this is so powerful and energetic, so often deadly fast, so it’s like an unstoppable beast… but even slower song like “Art of the Damned” is simply impressive and I consider it to be one of the best tunes here. On the other hand, if I was going to mention more mediocre track, then it would probably be “Unseen Darkness”- not a bad song, but maybe not quite as brilliant as rest of the album.
Anyways, twenty years later “Hate” still sounds damn impressive and strong. This early Sinister era was just unbeatable and I consider it to be one of the best, most vicious and aggressive European bands of the time. I can comeback to their early albums many times and never feel fed up with these sounds. So sad I cannot say the same about the recent records of this bands, which are solid, but not even close to the brilliance of “Cross the Styx” or “Hate”.
Standout tracks: “Awaiting the Absu”, “To Mega Therion”, “The Cursed Mayhem”, “Art of the Damned”

Final rate: 90/100

Funebre - Children of the Scorn

FUNEBRE - Children of the Scorn (SPINEFARM - LP 1991)
Finnish death metal… Yes, back in the old days this country had as many killer bands as Sweden or Holland! I am not even gonna bother to name my top three favourite releases from there, as it’s just damn impossible – there are so many! But Funebre would surely be on the podium! They were among the first death metal bands in Finland (formed in 1988!) and released couple of earth shaking and damn brutal demos. And these demos are cool, but not even half as killer as “Children of the Scorn”, which is the debut LP! Oh yeah… this album is just sweet!
And so damn diverse, as I think almost every song brings something different and generally Funebre was like a combination of few Finnish death metal bands plus they also had some traces of the Swedish death metal, like Afflicted, what gave the music not only more atmospheric touch, but the harmonies made it more easy to listen to and more memorable. For sure Funebre was not as brutal as some other Finnish acts like Disgrace, Demilich or Purtenance, not to mention the sick grinding of Xysma. But they were having a lot in common with bands like Demigod, Adramelech, Convulse… So, there were quite many quite technical riffs, many broken rhythms, some weird stuff (not as weird as Lubricant luckily!). Maybe I am far from calling their music as very complex, but such songs as “Walls that Held Screams” or “Sinners’ Eve” had that multifaceted touch to it. Funebre was surely not a band, which liked simple stuff, so even within a single song you could find a lot of diversity and as a whole the albums covers fast death metal, slow death metal, technical stuff, as well as melodic bits… almost everything. I should probably mention songs like “Shiver”, “Slumber End” and “Blood on White” – and believe me, each is different from the other. The music sounds savage, aggressive, sick, but still quite memorable. Hardly ever it’s extremely fast, although such “Slumber End”, which I already mentioned, has some such parts. But I also mentioned “Blood on White” and this is among my true favourites on the LP. It begins with nice, melodic, doomy piece and later transforms into crazy riff, which is breaking the rhythms almost like Afflicted haha… The mid part is again slower, with a harmonic leads giving it a nice atmosphere and yeah – the whole sounds a lot like Swedish death metal! Some other songs also have those melodic accents and definitely they make Funebre songs more interesting. But generally this band had a great gift to come up with killer riffs and arrangements. I truly fuckin love their style of playing and to be honest, there’re maybe just a couple of fragments, which I like least, but the rest just slays ruthlessly. And even when the band performs some more technical and complex parts, with broken rhythms and riffs, like in “Shiver” (where are also some blasts, doomy riffs, nice leads… just everything is there, so diverse is this track!), it still sounds damn good. And somewhere in between that sick death metal ferocity you’ll find “Spirits Bewail” – a soft, melancholic acoustic theme, which sounds almost odd and out of place, but have its place as an intro in between two of the most ravaging tracks.
If there’s anything that I would really want to change to this album, then it would be the guitar sound. It’s not bad, but it’s just so fuckin thin and not brutal enough. Especially when the first song begins, I’m always like “damn, what a buzz”! Also in some faster tunes like “Redemeed from Time” it gets so noisy, instead of just being fuckin crusher. I can get used to it after a while, but it’s just not quite right. I don’t know if the remastered version from the CD/LP re-release sounds better, but that’s not even something I am interesting, as I hate to hear classic albums, which have changed sound. And also there’s one more thing I would change – I just hate the way “Waiting for Arrival” begins, straight to the vocal lines. It just sounds like someone cut some parts from this song haha!
Oh, on the final comment I must also say that it’s just pity that the lyrics for this album were never published. I would really love to read them. Also, I’ve seen the artwork of the CD/LP reissue of this album and even though it’s different, it’s really cool also, as it’s done to look similar to the original (no idea why they could not use the original artwork anyway?!). But if you ever have a chance to buy the original LP from Spinefarm, do not hesitate. I don’t think it’s extremely expensive, at least not as much as some other Finnish death metal classics. And it’s just better to have the first press. All in all, definitely “Children of the Scorn” is among my favourite death metal LPs from Finland, if not in my top three, then surely just behind. Totally recommended.
Standout tracks: oh, too many to mention again

Final rate: 90/100

Epitaph - Seeming Salvation

EPITAPH - Seeming Salvation (THRASH Records - LP 1992)
Swedish death metal! Is there anything better than that? I think not! I love this music, I love this sound and always preferred the Scandinavian bands over American death metal for instance (with few exceptions obviously!). And Epitaph was one of my favourites back in the early 90’s! Of course I liked Dismember, Grave, Desultory, Entombed or Necrophobic the most, but at some point I also bought (blindly, without knowing anything about those bands, but I loved the artwork haha) licensed cassettes with such albums like “Passage of Life” and “Seeming Salvation” – both on Loud Out Records – and for me these smaller and lesser known bands were just as great as the big names everyone knew. They were both clicking all the right boxes about “what I like in the Swedish death metal”, and more so, there was also this feeling of satisfaction that I got two bands, which none of my friends knew about, so I could brag about finding new death metal killers haha! Anyways, it’s now over 20 years later and I still come back to these albums quite often. I have that original LP of “Seeming Salvation”, released on Thrash Records, which I bough around 2005 for quite small price – and laugh seeing how much people want to pay these days not only for the original CD or LP, but even for the repress CD. It is just hilarious! I am not even sure, if this album is worth so much? Probably not, because let’s be honest – it’s great record, but nothing really special or groundbreaking for the Swedish death metal in general. It’s not “Left Hand Path” or “Like an Ever Flowing Stream”, if you know what I mean. Epitaph were just adopting to what other Swedish bands already created. Sure, they had a great demo “Disorientation” from 1991 (also released on the split LP with Excruciate) and this full length is also killer, but in the scale of the entire scene, they were just as common and typical as most of the other bands. There was nothing what would really differ Epitaph from the likes of Cemetary, Mastication, Excruciate and so on. Which is nothing wrong, as now we all love these bands even more than we did twenty years ago haha!
So, let’s see what is this album like. One thing, which I think did not survive the test of time is the production of “Seeming Salvation”. I think this is one of the weakest Sunlight Studios recorded albums. The sound is quite clean, maybe too clean, the guitars are thin as fuck and just not aggressive at all. Of course Epitaph had that characteristic guitar tone, which most of the Sunlight bands had, but these guitars are not heavy enough and not so downtuned as on the demo or as most of the other Swedish bands tuned. For example it doesn’t sound as aggressive as “Passage of Life”, which was recorded in similar time.
But I have to admit that I love “Seeming Salvation” despite all its drawbacks. Musically, this is just a killer record, from start to finish it offers great melodic, atmospheric death metal songs and even though I’ve listened to this album hundreds of times, it still doesn’t bore me at all. Epitaph had good skills to come up with great, memorable songs and infectious melodies that shall stick in your head for good, but at the same time you will bang your head like crazy, because this is still a ravaging death metal. Yes, melodic stuff, but Epitaph was not forgetting about having many killer, vicious parts and incorporated even some blasts here and there, so it’s very diverse material. It begins with “Chastity”, which is sort of doomy intro with spoken words. It smoothly transforms into the title song, which is a classic stuff, comparable to Cemetary, Desultory, Gorement or Excruciate. It is all midpaced, with great guitar work on the harmonious riffs, also with nice melodic leads, but still keeping that aggressive side intact. Meanwhile the next song “Prey to Dismay” belongs to the most noticeable as well as diverse pieces, as you have there some blasts in the opening part, which suddenly changes into a slow, doomy and melodic theme. And again there’s this great guitar solo and even a nice acoustic piece in the middle… This song has just everything what I like about Swedish death metal, so yeah, for me it’s one of the best songs on the album. If you like more aggressive stuff, then I recommend you track called “The Twisted Grace”. It’s damn killer song, with few faster parts, but again with a necessary dose of harmonic riffs here and there. Or “Self Inflicted”, which is also very obscure and brutal. These two are definitely the most aggressive tracks here.
Obviously I can mention more songs and each would have something characteristic about them; there are some, which are more focused on the aggressive death metal, some other are more doomy and melodic… but the whole album is just a very good listen. “Seeming Salvation” may have its drawbacks, but when speaking of the songwriting, it’s very proper and well composed album. All songs are killer, in my opinion, even if quite predictable and typical, but maybe Epitaph just picked up all the best ingredients of killer Swedish death metal and glued them together?? So, it’s great, classic album for me and for sure it’s in my top then of Swedish death metal of all time.
Standout tracks: “Prey to Dismay”, “Seeming Salvation”, “The Twisted Grace”

Final rate: 85/100

Lifestream - Post Ecstatic Experience

LIFESTREAM - Post Ecstatic Experience (EMANATIONS Productions - CD 2015)
This is another release from LADLO Productions, this time from their sub label called Emanations, and it is a French band called Lifestream. They were formed really just a couple of years ago and only did one recording, which is this album titled “Post Ecstatic Experience”, released in December 2015. The artwork for this album reminds me actually another French band, Deathspell Omega from their “Fas - Ite, Maledicti, in Ignem Aeternum” LP, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t even think many people would notice this also?
To be honest with you, I kind of had problems with “Post Ecstatic Experience”. I played this album several times, but just couldn’t get into it properly. First time I played it I was distracted and couldn’t focus on the music properly. Few days later I played it again and again, but something wasn’t clicking here. I mean, my first thoughts on Lifestream were “well, it’s a decent album, this band is good, but I cannot say that it’s something what would really blow my mind off and intrigue me, make me want to come back to this album every now and then with passion and hunger”. And you know what? Again few days passed and my opinion didn’t change. Yes, “Post Ecstatic Experience” is a solid album, it delivers a good listen, but I cannot say that I feel intrigued and really obsessive about it. And I cannot even say why. “Post Ecstatic Experience” is surely a bit too long for me. This album is over 50 minutes long and the music gets a bit monotonous and one dimensional after a while, even if it’s not really, but the way Lifestream plays will make you feel that. But it would be unfair to call “Post Ecstatic Experience” a boring and unimpressive, because Lifestream has some great fragments and potential for sure. Yes, fragments, not necessarily the whole songs.
I definitely like how the band builds their music around harsh, raw sounding black metal mixed up with the dark, atmospheric stuff. There are many keyboards, not just used as a filler in the background, but often as a main part of the song. There are also some melodies, calmer pieces, and generally I must say that I like those atmospheric parts the most. They sometimes even remind me old Emperor, but obviously in much less exciting and blood freezing way. And on occasion, when Lifestream plays some faster shit, they even remind me some Mayhem, like in “Introspective Maze” for example, which is brilliant opener, or “Lifeless Solace”, which does sometimes sound like mid era Mayhem, minus the keyboards though (love the opening riffage in it!!!). “Sad Thoughts Overdose”, which is an instrumental song, is also among my favourites, it’s very nice melodic piece, which really stands out here, same as another instrumental song called “Banshee”.
So yes, definitely this album has many really fantastic fragments, but as a whole I kind of feel a bit tired with Lifestream formula for the music. I get lost in these long songs, I don’t think the band has enough great ideas to keep me personally interested through not just a ten minutes long composition, but through the whole fifty minutes long album. I can pick up a killer riff here, great idea or something else there, but hardly ever a whole piece. I don’t know if it’s just my personal impression or what… or maybe it’s just the fact that if there are so many truly killer black metal records released lately then something what is only solid can be just easily forgettable as well. “Post Ecstatic Experience” is still enjoyable, I’ve played in enough times to appreciate it… but I leave it to you to decide if Lifestream is worth anything more than that.
Standout tracks: “Introspective Maze”, “Lifeless Solace”, “Sad Thoughts Overdose”

Final rate: 69/100

Monday, 1 February 2016

Katechon - Man, God, Giant

KATECHON - Man, God, Giant (Nuclear War Now! - CD 2013)
I do admit that I discovered the music of Katechon pretty late, but as they say “better late, than never”, right? Sadly I missed the vinyl version of  “Man, God, Giant”, but at least I have the CD and have been spinning it countless times in the past week. And damn, I can only agree with opinions, which say that Katechon are another great Norwegian black metal band. Yes, they are and that makes me think that the scene in this country is again so damn exciting. I’m not gonna even mention all these new names and one certain record label, which is strongly responsible for all the attention and hype for new Norwegian bands, but it surely is something exciting. Anyway, Katechon hit strongly with “Man, God, Giant” and surely deserves your support and interest.
The band comes from Trondheim and is a five piece, but to be honest, there are no well known names in the line up, even if some of these guys had smaller or bigger episodes in bands like Sarke, Thorns or Wallachia. It’s interesting though that when I listen to the music, I don’t really sense that many similarities of Katechon sound and style to what comes from Norway usually. Frankly speaking, I would rather connect this band to the North American extreme bestial death / black metal scene… but who cares, right? The music is definitely damn savage, vicious aggressive and harsh as fuck, sometimes with almost punkish simplicity. And for sure it originates in bands like Darkthrone (“A Blaze…” era!) on one hand and Blasphemy on the other, with some essential influences of very old Bathory. I am quite surprised, positively though, with the relatively cleaner, but still on the obscure side, production, which fits well the sounds that Katechon spits forth with cruel, sadistic passion. And even if you cannot say that “Man, God, Giant”  is anything extra spectacular or original, the album kicks ass brutally and with no mercy, delivering a bunch of great, straight forward tracks that shall crush you instantly. Their recipes for each song are quite simple, the riffs are not technical, Katechon doesn’t show off with fuckin guitar solos (OK, there are few, but not in the virtuoso way, if you know what I mean), instead it’s just straight forward and violent music. Simple, but effective.
And if you’re not into fast, raw and bestial sounding, morbid death / black metal, then don’t even try to remember the name Katechon, as it will have no use for you. But in case you do worship such sounds, then “Man, God, Giant” should be a very interesting recommendation. Check this album, released on cult Nuclear War Now!, there’s also a second full length released recently (called “Coronation”), which I definitely need to grab… but in the meantime it’s “Man, God, Giant” blasting loud.

Final rate: 70/100

Mordbrand / Rite split

MORDBRAND / RITE - Split 7"EP (DOOMENTIA Records - EP 2015)
Looks like some of these newly founded old school death metal bands don’t know the meaning of the word “rest” and work hard on another and another release, even if some of them are just singles. Mordbrand is one such band, with three EPs, two split 7”EPs and one full length album all released within three years. Good, I’m not gonna complain, as I like this band’s music a lot. On this recent split with Rite, putted out by Doomentia Records, they have song called “Order of the Formless”, which is just as good as their previous stuff. Good, classic style of Swedish death metal, which should tick all the right boxes if you wanted to make a precise description of this style of death metal. Of course it’s not the best song you’ll ever hear in this style, it’s probably not even in the top hundred, but damn it, it’s good enough to crush your head and tear some guts out. I like these riffs a lot, especially the one that opens the song is so fuckin heavy and damn awesome that the ears are bleeding! And Per Boder still sounds like a beast and surely this song is not tiring and repetitive as some moaners would wish it to be. Expect to hear just solid, great sounding death metal, that’s it!
I was not familiar with Rite at all, it turns out it’s black metal project, not death metal! But I know that Per Boder likes a lot of black metal (including many Polish bands haha), so I am not surprised if Mordbrand releases a split with black metal project. Rite is also Swedish and they’re OK, really. They play quite harsh and heavily distorted music, with really cold and hateful aura, there are some faster moments, as well as some slower ones and generally it’s just typical noisy Scandinavian black metal. Again I can say it’s nothing innovative, nothing spectacular, but damn solid and worthy piece of music. I played this song few times and surely need to find some more releases from Rite now.
Nice split 7”EP then!

Final rate: 75/100

Pogavranjen - Sebi jesi meni nisi

POGAVRANJEN - Sebi jesi meni nisi (ARACHNOPHOBIA Records LP 2015)
Bands from the Balkan region have never been in the centre of my attention and I sincerely doubt it will ever change, but from time to time something interesting comes also from this area. Here’s one Croatian band, which I think will make some turmoil around and get more recognition soon. They’re called Pogavranjen. I am spinning their second album “Sebi jesi meni nisi” released on vinyl through Arachnophobia Records and Musica Noir in just 300 copies quantity. And all I can say is that it’s very exciting and interesting record that surely should interest all listeners that like to hear more unconventional and untypical take on black metal.
This album is a classic type of “never judge the book by its cover” thing, as for sure the photograph on the front will not tell you anything about what sort of music we can expect from “Sebi jesi meni nisi”. This guy in huge glasses and fashionable beard, smoking cigarette, can say nothing and everything. And it would fit to many music styles, from rock to blues, jazz and sludge, but black metal – even one which is unconventional – would be one of my last guesses. Surprise, surprise then ha! Say what you want though, but Pogavranjen is damn good and intriguing black metal outfit, whose music is intense, sick and fuckin’ schizophrenic in the way the band mixes styles and different moods into one extreme, chaotic package. This album contains basically just four lengthy songs, of which three can be described as outbursts of maniacally fast and chaotic black metal spiced with avantgardish, unconventional flavour of something insane, sometimes progressive, sometimes bizarre, but fuckin intense and hard kicking. I like that dirty, possessed sound with the tempo that feels like unstoppable, furious cannonade, with torturous, sick and haunted screams (almost like on some earlier Anaal Nathrakh albums), a bit of electronic fills and maybe even a bit of melody, but served in very, very small dose, mostly buried in the overcoming chaos. “Jeziva suša” is the best example, with ten minutes of relentless and non-stoppable attack of fast and cacophonous black metal. And it may sound like noise to some, but there’s really awesome hypnotizing feeling to this song and even if they basically play the same shit over and over again in it, it works great anyway! Maybe it sometimes sounds like metal scratching in the steel factory, but damn, how powerful it is! All these three songs, two on side A and first one on side B are excellent.
The last song “Strigoi” is the only non fast song and something what I actually enjoyed the most. This song is 13 minutes of fantastic calm, melancholic black metal, with not even a bit of previously heard chaotic aggression, but with a lot of atmospheric parts, clean guitar tones and kind of quiet and tranquil playing, cleaner sounding vocals, etc. Sure, the aura can still quite disturbing, but it’s almost relaxing, fantastically sounding song, which has a good place after the previous three fast and harsh pieces.
All in all, I can only speak in positive words about Pogavranjen and “Sebi jesi meni nisi”. It’s very good album, really enjoyable music, with not even a single moment that I would not like. It’s complete record, you know?  And the best thing is that I have no idea with which bands I could easily compare Pogavranjen to. No idea, really! Abigor maybe??!! Who cares. It’s great band for sure.
Standout track: “Strigoi”, “Ponoćni lov”

Final rate: 85/100

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Lifeless / Obscure Infinity / Arroganz / Reckless Manslaughter - Sermon of Ungodly Dreams

LIFELESS / OBSCURE INFINITY / ARROGANZ / RECKLESS MANSLAUGHTER - Sermon of Ungodly Dreams (SUPREME CHAOS Records - 12"LP 2015)
I keep saying how impressed I am with the current death metal scene in Germany and all those killer old school bands that emerged there. And this release is kind of proof for it, even though it doesn’t feature two of my favourite bands from Deutschland (Revel in Flesh and Slaughterday). Damn, if they were featured here also, then this split would be greatest than everything else. Anyway, the line up is solid also: two bands, which I also like a lot – Lifeless and Obscure Infinity and two, which I only knew by the name – Arroganz and Reckless Manslaughter. The LP was released by Supreme Chaos Records and I must say that this label did amazing job here; I love the artwork, and the packaging is very solid, with insert sheet and double sided poster. More so, there are three coloured versions, of which I have the red/black marbled vinyl limited to 250 copies. And musically, this is just killer feast and great stuff from start to finish.
So, we start with Arroganz. They already have three albums released, last one “Tod & Teufel” was unleashed by FDA in 2015… but this is my first opportunity to listen to their music. And I like it a lot. It’s more like blackened death metal, not so pure, traditional style of death metal I think, but that’s not so important. What matters is that this is truly solid, great sounding stuff, with quite harsh and aggressive manner. It’s also quite slow, with really dark and gloomy atmosphere and generally really fine song. After hearing it I definitely have to check “Tod & Teufel” also.
Lifeless strikes with “Insanity Reigns”. I like their “Godcontruct” album a lot, it’s killer Dismember-like death metal, insanely good debut. And this new song doesn’t disappoint. I like that the band tries to come up with a bit different kind of riffs here and there, but generally sticks to what I liked on the debut album. This new song should not disappoint anyone, who worships Swedish death metal, it delivers great, crushing riffs, some nice melodies and great vocals of Marc Niederhagemann. It’s just powerful death metal, really good sounding, and for me this is the stuff I like the most.
Side B starts with Obscure Infinity and obviously their song along with Lifeless track is my favourite part of the split. I have all their previous releases, I like to observe how their music progresses and gets better and better. “Ashen Embalmment” is another truly fine song from them. It sounds awesome and again I have to say their music is on one hand deeply rooted in the traditional European death metal of early 90’s, but on the other have enough individual and original patterns to distinguish Obscure Infinity from the rest of old school death metal scene. This band is just special, sadly I feel they’re still not quite as appreciated as they should... but they’re going in the right direction. “Ashen Embalmment” is one of their better songs for sure, great riffs, some of which are slightly melodic (great leads!), killer dark atmosphere… maybe the dual vocals are not sounding quite as awesome as I would wish, but I am not bothered. It’s very, very good song anyway.
Reckless Manslaughter is left on the battlefield as last, to kill all what’s left alive… and maybe they’re last and I like their song least from the whole set, but that doesn’t mean they’re bad! What I don’t like about it is that it’s just too long and a bit monotonous, even if the main, opening theme is really cool. But it gets quite repetitive, so I would cut the last two minutes and maybe then it would be a bit better and we would get a nice heavy, bit mournful death metal played in slow pace. Don’t get me wrong though, I like it as it is, it’s enough to convince to get some of their CDs, maybe one day I will.

Final rate: 80/100

Monday, 18 January 2016

Belphegor - Necrodaemon Terrorsathan

BELPHEGOR - Necrodaemon Terrorsathan (LAST EPISODE - CD 2000)
I really enjoyed Belphegor’s early albums, “Blutsabbath” being my definite favourite, but “The Last Supper” is also very nice. “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan” is their third album, released in 2000, and well, I have rather mixed feelings about it. On one hand I cannot say it’s bad album, as it’s not, but on the second it’s just not quite as brilliant as some other Belphegor albums, even if I am sure many fans of the band won’t agree and they will put “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan” in their top three.
I can understand why they would do that. The album has everything people like Belphegor for. It’s so damn fast and relentless, so vicious and aggressive, but at the same time it’s quite catchy, what is rather unusual, when speaking of such fast and violent music. But “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan” do has many catchy, memorable, at the same time nasty and fierce riffs, the whole music is fast, but I don’t know why it’s just easily listenable. I like how Belphegor is blending death and black metal into one pissed off maelstrom and surely they managed to find their own sound and style, which is good. So, why I am not so much convinced by “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan”? Well, this album is not bad, I like it, but I don’t think it’s brilliant. I feel like Belphegor music started to be so fuckin predictable at that time and on their third album it starts to sound like they started to repeat themselves a lot. Some of these riffs and arrangements are identical to some other stuff they’ve already played and even if it sounds cool, then it’s just not able to really crush me. I know that I used to like this album more, back when it was released I loved it. Nowadays I’m a little less impressed.
But “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan” does have some splendid moments, it does offer a solid and neckbreaking death / black metal and if you like fast and violent music, then this album is going to slay you. “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan”, “Vomit Upon the Cross”, “Diabolical Possession” are the songs that I like the most and they’re the songs that open the album. Later the “repetition” feeling is growing and the enthusiasm is fading. Luckily Belphegor doesn’t go below some quality and in the end these 35 minutes of music are as enjoyable as they can only be in this sort of death / black metal.
Fans will surely love “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan” also for being so offensive, so damn blasphemous and satanic. Belphegor has no boundaries and don’t give a fuck about being politically correct or whatever, they also don’t care about good taste, so their albums are filled with blasphemy, desecrations, evilness, erotica and sadistic stuff (“Lust Perishes in a Thirst for Blood” lyrics are surely everyone’s favourite haha). Good, it always sells well haha. You see offending and sacrilegious pictures in the booklet and think “what the hell” and then laugh as it’s so funny to see naked chick doing the job on her pussy with a cross haha. And do you remember the video they did for “Vomit Upon the Cross”?
Standout tracks: “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan”, “Vomit Upon the Cross”, “Diabolical Possession”

Final rate: 70/100

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Archives of the Dead part XX: BODY BAG - Severed Existence

ARCHIVES OF THE DEAD part XX: BODY BAG - Severed Existence (Demo 1993)
Line up: C.J. Mikiten (bass), Jimmy "The Typhoon" Littlefield (drums), Eric Flath (guitars), Travis Dahmen (guitars), Mike Dexter (vocals)
Love the old US death metal demos. Even those, which came from small, hardly known bands, are often killer and better than many of those well known, popular albums. I’m not saying that Body Bag from Oregon was spectacular and sensation, as they were not good enough to be praised so much, but for sure they were one of those very good bands that should have done a full length and get more recognition. Unfortunately they only did three or four demos and then just split up sadly. “Severed Existence” is their second demo and one, which I really enjoy a lot. It’s one of those unknown releases that maniacs of old styled death metal and the early 90’s scene should love with the whole heart as the music has everything that we like about this style of music.
And so what if “Severed Existence” has quite harsh production, which obviously is not as professional as Morrisound recordings? And so what if Body Bag death metal is quite unoriginal and foreseeable? It’s jusy fuckin crushing stuff anyway, reminding me bands like Baphomet a lot. Yes, “Severed Existence” sounds a lot like this fantastic Buffalo commando. And obviously you can also compare Body Bag to Morta Skuld, Obituary, Morpheus Descends, Suffocation and lot more. For me these aspects like similarity to other bands or lack of something truly distinguishable isn’t spoiling the listening to this demo at all and “Severed Existence” is delivering such a crushing and punching slab of brutal death metal that it’s just a must to play it loud and bang the head with maniacal passion. I like how fast this music gets, but there are also some quite memorable, slower riffs that rip the flesh apart. Songs like “Human Remains” and “Dumpsite” are surely my favourites and I as I wrote above, the sound, riffs and even the vocals remind me Baphomet more than any other band. And it’s great, since I love their demos and “Dead Shall Inherit” LP, so take that as a compliment and very good recommendation. Yeah, very nice demo indeed and I am only disappointed that Body Bag went so little noticed back then.
By the way, I’ve heard the rumours that all Body Bag demos will be released on CD. I know it happens to 99% of old demos and bands these days, so it’s nothing exciting and new, but I am definitely looking forward for this CD. It can be really nice release.

Final rate: 80/100

Just Before Dawn - The Dead and Those About to Die

JUST BEFORE DAWN - The Dead and Those About to Die (CHAOS Records CD 2015 / TILL YOU FUKKIN BLEED MC 2015)
So, two albums behind and Anders Biazzi continues his World War Two conceptual death metal slaughter with another Just Before Dawn recording, which is an EP called “The Dead and Those About to Die”. The CD again came through Chaos Records, while the tape version was released on Till You Fukkin Bleed – and I am happy that I grabbed both of them ha! They do differ a bit from each other, with different cover art and more so, the tape has one extra song, which is a demo song for the upcoming third full length (and is nicely announced by Jonny Pettersson haha). I am not gonna say much about this bonus track though, let’s leave it till the album is out. The EP contains five songs and let’s stick to this.
And well, “The Dead and Those About to Die” is pretty much what you should expect from Just Before Dawn and is a continuation of the previous albums, without any experimentations, but also without a strongly noticeable progression. It’s the same stylistically and quality wise death metal which I would call Bolt Thrower played in the Swedish way and mixed up with a lot of Amon Amarth. That’s the best description for Just Before Dawn, in my opinion. All songs are slow or mid paced, with a strong melodic base and the monumental, kind of epic feeling, almost mournful and dignified. And yes, quality wise it’s again very solid and enjoyable material and like I was saying about the previous album, this EP is also nothing spectacular and tremendously exciting, but just good stuff that is worth listening to. And death metal fans will like it for sure. I do like it a lot of course!
On my review of “Aftermath” album I wrote that there’s one thing that I think works against Just Before Dawn and it’s the huge similarity between all the songs. You know, if each track is played with the same kind of melody and riffage, same tempos and maybe just the vocals change as they use different vocalists, then the feeling of monotony is inevitable. And Anders knows my opinion on this already haha! But on shorter releases like this EP it’s not a major problem, five epic songs go fast and I enjoyed them all really. “Graves Without Crosses” or “Counterbattery” are probably the titles that I remembered the most, but these songs are really fine. I like the melodies and the heaviness combined in the Bolt Throwerish way, especially in “Outnumbered”. I also like the production… yeah, there’s nothing really wrong about “The Dead and Those About to Die”, except maybe the fact that it is just repeating what was done on the previous albums. But does it disturb me at all? I guess I was not bothered at all and was playing this EP so many times in past few days that even my wife knows it by now haha. So, I am looking forward for Just Before Dawn’s third album, for which I already seen some killer vocalists will participate.
Standout track: “Outnumbered”

Final rate: 75/100

Friday, 15 January 2016

Kalmankantaja / Oþalan - Split CD

KALMANKANTAJA / OÞALAN - Split CD (WOLFSPELL Records - CD 2015)
I have no idea where is Wolfspell Records finding all these bands, but almost each new release from them introduces me to another unknown project. This one brings Kalmankantaja from Finland, who I got to know recently from the excellent split with Hermóðr. On this another split CD they’re joined by Oþalan from Sweden, for whom this is a debut release. And for Kalmankantaja this is like, I don’t know, 20th release in three, four years?
It doesn’t matter, their stuff on Hermóðr split was great, and so is this one. They present two tracks, which are very much in the same vein as those from the previous split. So we speak of slow paced, melancholic, sorrowful and grim sounding black metal. Again both tracks are close to ten minutes length, but again there’s not even a slightest sign of boredom, because Grim666 just knows how to build atmosphere, the riffs and harmonies he came up with are just really good and the whole song structure, arrangements and performance are brilliant. I like the harsh vocals there also, they do sound fantastic also because the lyrics are in Finnish, and this language, just like the other Scandinavian languages, always sounds kind of unique and more interesting in black metal than English, in my opinion at least. The song titles are “Hetki kuolemassa” and “Ikuiseen tuleen” and I have no idea what is Kalmankantaja singing about, but I can say that the music is just really good.
I had no idea what to expect from Oþalan, but both songs they have turned out to be not bad at all as well. Their way of black metal is even harsher, kind of more traditional, with quite fast, aggressive playing, very harsh, obscure sound and generally a grim, cold aura all over it. The general attitude is very relentless and fierce, furious black metal, but Oþalan has left some room for diversity also, there’s even piano in the ending fragment of “Dimma i den norra skogen” and beginning of “Solens återkomst” and acoustic guitar in “Gokötta”. And even if it’s nothing remarkable, it’s just good stuff and I can recommend Oþalan to the black metal maniacs also.

Final rate: 70/100

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Samael - Blood Ritual

SAMAEL - Blood Ritual (CENTURY MEDIA - CD 1992)
“Ceremony of Opposites” will always be my personal number one in Samael discography, but the two previous albums – “Worship Him” and “Blood Ritual” – are also damn close to perfection and I love them almost as much as I love “Ceremony…”. But then if I was going to choose between “Worship Him” and “Blood Ritual” then I never know, which of these two albums I like more. Each has something special and each delivers such a stunning piece of doomy black metal… damn, they’re just classic releases and an important records in the history of black metal.
“Blood Ritual” is pretty much a continuation of “Worship Him”, speaking of the style of music that Samael was performing. But it shows a great progression in songwriting skills, as surely an album number two has some better written songs, there are better ideas, great arrangements and absolutely essential, killer riffs and more so, it sounds more powerful. “Blood Ritual” is sometimes also a bit more harmonious, is easier to listen to, which may be surprising to some… and that probably comes mainly because the production of “Blood…” is not as raw and obscure as the debut’s. Maybe that’s actually something what I personally prefer on the first album – that harshness and cruel sound of slow paced black metal and that it was bringing along an utterly dark, morbid, evil aura that freeze blood every time you hear it. All this is slightly missing on “Blood Ritual”. Or let’s put it this way – better production and slightly more accessible playing here and there has removed a little of the obscurity and evilness from Samael. Of course “Blood Ritual” is still a satanic doomy black metal album. And it still fuckin kicks ass, because as I mentioned they swapped the harshness for absolutely fantastic amazing riffs and killer songwriting. There are so many memorable, unforgettable riffs and songs here, many more than on the debut record!! Starting with “Beyond Nothingness” – damn, what a fine and crushing song this is! But later you have “After the Sepulture”, which is maybe even my favourite Samael tune ever! It’s so damn powerful, heavy, dark and incredibly gloomy song, you must love it. “With the Gleam of the Torches” is another my personal favourite here. And even if the whole album is rather slow and the tempo hardly ever changes (the title track is the only faster piece here), it has absolutely no trace of monotony and boredom, all because the song structures are varied and so much is going in each track, there are so many ideas and brilliant arrangements that it’s enough to keep you focused. Such “Macabre Operetta” is seven minutes long, with very short lyrics and short vocals parts, but the playing is great and actually a lot like on the debut album.
I need to mention also the subtle use of some keyboards or acoustics, especially in songs like “Since the Creation” and more so in the excellent, kind of ritualistic, “Total Consecration”. They probably show a growing interest of Xytras in playing keyboards, something what they’ll exceed on “Ceremony of Opposites” and later albums even more. Anyways, what they’ve done with them here should not disturb those fans, who don’t like to hear keyboards in metal music. And if it does anyway, then who cares really?
Standout tracks: “Beyond Nothingness”, “After the Sepulture”, “With the Gleam of the Torches”, “Total Consecration”

Final rate: 85/100

Monday, 11 January 2016

Coffins / Butcher ABC Split EP

COFFINS / BUTCHER ABC Split (OBLITERATION Records - 7"EP 2015)
An alliance between two Japanese crews – Coffins and Butcher ABC, this is what this 7”EP is all about. Usually I’m not much into Japanese scene, but there are very few exceptions, like Anatomia and Coffins. And this is why I bought this EP, as Coffins are just really cool band to listen to, so why not adding a nice split to the collection? Yes!
Coffins play this Neanderthal death metal that most of you will find as too sludgy, too filthy, too noisy and not entertaining enough. They don’t show off with ultra technical riffage or drumming, the music is simple doomy death stuff, the vocals are just disgusting and the overall aura is rather creepy and it stinks like some putrid shit mixed with vomit. But of corpse Coffins have their fans and people, who dig their stuff a lot. I also like some of their albums, that similarity to bands like Autopsy, Anatomia, Cianide, Repulsion and so on is undisputable and much welcomed. “Reborn Pt.2” is maybe not the most exiting song I’ve ever heard from them, but it’s fun to listen to and surely a solid and worthy slab of filth. I’m surely not disappointed with those Japanese sickos!
Side B is Butcher ABC, who I only know from their split CD with General Surgery. Well, maybe it’s time to catch up with them and get some more stuff, even though they still didn’t come up with a full length album, but only with a bunch of splits and EPs… but damn, “House of Meats” is killer song, I like it even more than Coffins’ track. They play a fantastic style of old school death metal mixed with some grind core, there’s a small Swedish influence (General Surgery, Unleashed, etc), plus the fuckin Autopsy again or whatever, who cares?!… “House of Meats” is so sweet, heavy and obscure, the riffs are excellent (sometimes doomy, sometimes death metal or grinding, sometimes punk), performance is awesome… all about this song is just great, I like it fully, also the production, which is raw, but so proper for this sort of music. So, Butcher ABC wins on this split, but both Japanese bands are really recommended.

Final rate: 75/100

Urgehal - Massive Terrestrial Strike

URGEHAL - Massive Terrestrial Strike (NO COLOURS - LP 1998)
No doubt, Urgehal is one of the very few older Norwegian black metal bands that always stayed faithful to their roots, never wimped out, never changed their style for something else or never “matured” like so many other bands from this country. And that is enough reason for me to have special respect and admiration for Urgehal works, even if not all their stuff is super good. But when you want to listen to some pure Norwegian black metal, this is the stuff! “Massive Terrestrial Strike” is their second album, released back in 1998, and maybe it’s not my favourite record from Nefast and Enzifer, but surely it’s a decent and solid slab of black metal filth.
And you know, you can accuse Urgehal for playing so repetitive, unoriginal and primitive stuff, but I like it anyway. Fuck off, this is pure Norwegian black metal. And yes, music style of Urgehal – not only on “Massive Terrestrial Strike” – is very comparable to Darkthrone. I would add also Bathory from “The Return” LP and Carpathian Forest for the full picture. But it’s mainly Darkthrone, from such classic records like “Transilvanian Hunger” and “Total Death”. Even the artwork of “Massive Terrestrial Strike” reminds me “Total Death”, but it surely fits the title very well. Lyrics aside, as they’re typical black metal bullshit, sometimes better written, sometimes worse (“…He rape the pure thoughts of those fucking christians and he penetrates the pure cunts of those delicious little nuns…”). The music is surely a mead for the black metal maniacs. It’s raw sounding, cruel, filthy, cold and aggressive stuff, with good balance between the simplistic, minimalist and monotonously sounding fast shit and slower, more rhythmic and “catchier” black metal. Of course I like the latter a bit more, the slower riffs are always good to hear, they have this nice vibe and bring more interesting ideas. And they have great, more memorable hooky black metal riffs, with better performed, less dry vocals. If you want some good examples, then take a listen to “Supreme Evil”, “Flames of Black Candles” or “The Sodomizer”, which even has a kind of thrashing black feeling, similar to Aura Noir. Surely though “Image of the Horned King” is the best song of all, with best riffs, very good arrangements, etc, so it’s a real standout here. On the other hand I don’t like such “The Saturnine Denomination” so much, as it’s just monotonous and utterly mediocre fast black metal.
So, “Massive Terrestrial Strike” has some better and maybe a couple of worse songs, it has some killer moments and some dull ones. It isn’t the best work from Urgehal though, their best were yet to come in 2000’s, but it’s a solid and worthy black metal slab for sure. It’s good to have a vinyl version, which comes with an extra song, but it was limited to 500 copies, never reissued, so it can be quite hard to find.
Standout tracks: “Supreme Evil”, “Image of the Horned King”, “The Sodomizer”

Final rate: 69/100

Monday, 4 January 2016

Coffin Creep - Howls from the Graveyard

COFFIN CREEP - Howls from the Graveyard (Sound of Records - MC 2015)
I’ve found this cassette in Till You Fukkin Bleed distro and bought it without hesitation. You know, the band is from Sweden, plays old school death metal… this sounds like something I wanna check right now haha! So, Coffin Creep second demo “Howls from the Graveyard” is here. It’s been released on Sound of Records, with just 100 copies made, so I can call myself a lucky to have a copy.
You’ll find here four tracks plus a cover and well… I have to say that this is another really fine young death metal band in the underground. I don’t want you to think it’s sensational, outstanding piece of music, because it’s not. Coffin Creep is as typical and unoriginal as many other old school death bands these days, but they’re more solid and interesting than most of them. Right from the first song they hit hard with great, massive heavy riffage, “Puking Necrophilia” is damn good opener that should cause your ears bleed after the massacring sounds get there. “Pyre at the Graveyard” is also very nice and yes, they do have some troubles with their sick necrophiliac interests haha (“Why did you dig out my wife? Coz I wanna fuck her” hahahaha!). What I like is that Coffin Creep doesn’t focus just on one type of rhythm or riffage, but their music is quite varied, even if fully oriented on heavy death metal shit. There are some slow, crushing parts, some faster pieces and generally if you think of Grave, Vomitory, Torture Division, Bloodbath and this sort of bands, then you should know what Coffin Creep music is like. Damn good stuff, in my opinion and very enjoyable demo, which is finished with a well done Bloodbath cover. Recommended.
Standout track: “Puking Necrophilia”

Final rate: 75/100

Kalmankantaja / Hermóðr - Split CD

KALMANKANTAJA / HERMÓÐR - Split CD (WOLFSPELL Records 2015)
Let’s waste no time and listen to another fantastic release from Wolfspell Records, which I have a pleasure to review and recommend. And this is split CD, with Kalmankantaja and Hermóðr. Obviously I already know Hermóðr quite well, but Kalmankantaja is new for me. And they’re opening this CD with two songs.
Well, Kalmankantaja are Finnish and it’s a band, which – what a surprise – is just as productive as Rafn and his Hermóðr. It’s one man project, formed by Grim666 and I know already this dude from Seal of Beleth and Grimigr. He’s also a member of few other bands, including Wyrd, which is probably the most known of them all. Kalmankantaja is I think his solo thing and only within three years he released around seven full length albums, six splits plus some EPs. Don’t ask me what’s the point for such frequent release of your work and if the quantity comes together with quality, I just don’t know. It’s the first time I listen to Kalmankantaja. And well, if the other stuff is as good as these two tracks, then I don’t mind how many albums Mr. Grim releases. It’s really good atmospheric, depressive, rough sounding black metal with small melodic touch and proper dark, eerie aura. Both songs are very long, closing in ten minutes and both are played in slow tempos, what can maybe sometimes bring the impression of monotonous, repetitive doomy music, but I don’t care. I like the drowned in melancholy harmonic riffs (which include quite few clean sounding guitar tones), vocals are also not bad, so is the production. I suppose that if they included some faster parts in the structure of the songs, then the whole aura would be destroyed, so it’s just good as it is. The second song “Varjojen Valtakunta” is probably my favourite from the whole CD, it’s really damn good, but expect the whole material to sound very solid and interesting. Kalmankantaja is definitely a very nice discovery.
Hermóðr also offers a couple of new tracks and surely they don’t disappoint, although I must admit that maybe these two songs – which again are bloody looonnngg – are maybe more monotonous and one dimensional not only when compared to Kalmankantaja, but also when compared to some of the previous Hermóðr songs. But I’m not saying it’s boring and shit, no, no no! It do require some attention from you to drown within the disturbing, ultra gloomy aura, to capture the eerie, cold feeling of it. Once you’re there, the music will paint pictures, bring visions of desolation, sadness, melancholic, frozen landscapes and so on. “Förfallen & Övergiven” is fourteen minutes long anthem, then “Vredesmod” takes your attention for nine minutes. You can call it boring stuff, you can moan that it’s too doomy or too monotonous… who cares?! Rafn is surely talented dude, it’s another recording of his that I truly enjoyed, so I can only hope to hear more from him in the future. And I still have some of his previous albums to pick up, so there’s plenty of music to come.
Standout track: “Varjojen Valtakunta”

Final rate: 70/100