Sunday, 13 October 2019

Haunted Cenotaph - Haunted Cenotaph

Haunted Cenotaph - Haunted Cenotaph (FALLEN TEMPLE - CD 2019)
It’s awesome to see Haunted Cenotaph back from the tomb so shortly after their first recording “Nightmares from Beyond”. This time they bring four anthems (with an intro to start it all) compiled on the EP simply called “Haunted Cenotaph”. And what can I write other than if you have listened to “Nightmares...” and liked it, then this new onslaught will definitely be up your street. It actually is even better than debut, what is exactly what I expected from this band - an improvement, even better songwriting, which at the same time would keep all the best aspects of the debut intact. Good work. 
Creepy intro as usually has to come first – and these are three minutes of the sounds from the deepest and darkest corners of catacombs. Intros are something what you either like or hate, some people dislike them for being something useless. I have different opinion and I think that intros are able to set up the proper mood for your entire album. There are actually albums, which I couldn’t imagine without their intros. It’s exactly that case here – these intros help you visualise the lyrical theme of Haunted Cenotaph’s music. But once “At the Gates of R'lyeh” is over, a fantastic doomy riffage come forth, sounding like a crawling, most horrid beast. It's heavy, nasty and damn vicious, savage monolith of death, crushing and massacring with no hesitation. All three “proper” songs from this EP present similar style and quality, of killer doom / death metal. Slow paced riffs, some mid paced parts to get a bit of diversity, ghoulish vocals, horror atmosphere... Actually “Into the Realm of Thanatos” is faster than anything this band has done so far and I’m glad to hear that Haunted Cenotaph sounds equally great in both slow and faster death metal. But slowest, doomiest death metal is the juice of this music, with the song “Rites of the Undead” shining on this EP the most. I could only moan that this CD is so short and three songs end up too early. But it gives an enormous appetite for Haunted Cenotaph’s next efforts. I am definitely looking forward to hear them. 
Standout track: “Rites of the Undead” 
Verdict: 85/100 

Saturday, 21 September 2019

Kingdom - Rotting Carcass Arise upon the Burial Mound

KINGDOM - Rotting Carcass Arise upon the Burial Mound (GODZ OV WAR Productions CD 2019)
God damn, is the time flying so fast or is it Kingdom, who are so bloody productive? Both I guess, but the truth is that since 2013's "Morbid Priest of Supreme Blasphemy" Kingdom already attacked us with four albums. "Rotting Carcass Arise upon the Burial Mound" was quite unexpected, because I barely cleaned the mess, which "Putrescent Remains of the Dead Ground" (2018) left. But I'm not moaning about that, it's good to see this band in such a good form. 
Honestly, "Rotting Carcass Arise upon the Burial Mound" doesn't surprise with anything. And if you've ever heard any of Kingdom's previous albums, then you should know exactly what to expect from this bastard. In case you never had a chance to hear Kingdom before, let me simply say that they play this bestial, venomous quite brutal but harsh death metal, with small hint of black metal there as well. Definitely Kingdom are not a band for those, who like to hear melodic parts, more "sophisticated" patterns, more catchy and groovy stuff. Their music is raw as hell, it smells like sulphur and cadaver, is filled with blasphemy and torment... And definitely is not pleasant. I think that the harshness and almost noisy sound gives Kingdom music quite a specific, almost chaotic, character, which I think was absolutely intentional and now became a trademark for this band. 
As previously, Kingdom often blasts like crazy, not taking prisoners, but slaying everything on its way with furious riffage and proper fast drumming. "Dark Light Rising" is onof the prime examples for the savagery you will find in Kingdom's music. But they often slow things down, bringing more heaviness to their music, which is always good to hear. They keep it all raw, of course, but these slower parts have great, obscure atmosphere and bring more diversity, so the music doesn’t simply sound monotonous ("Świątynia zepsucia", “Burial Mound”). All this time Kingdom uses pretty simple patterns for arrangements, it really is as simple as possible, which also gives more straight forward and bestial feel. And I do like the bass work and sound of this album as well. 
And for the end of the album you'll get an interesting cover of the mighty "Baphomet's Throne". Well, at first it wasn't easy to recognize that it's this song, because it's completely derived of any keyboards - which in the original version play such an important role. So, you can imagine that Kingdom's version of this song is much rawer, more brutal and bestial. Is it good? Ehhhh, I'm not really excited, I don't think it's particularly good. It's OK, but it didn't give me the atmosphere of the original version... So, no, I don't like it that much. And it looks like it's my tradition now, not to like covers they do. I didn't like Immortal's cover on the previous album, I don't like Samael's. Who cares... Let's dig some graves. 
I like the consequence, with which Kingdom continues to record their albums. They do not look for anything new, they surely don't care if we like it or not... They just want to play this brutal shit as best as they can. If you happen to like their music, then it's a bonus. I do, even if "Rotting Carcass Arise upon the Burial Mound" is not their best onslaught. To be honest, it’s not something what you can listen to for few hours and every dayBut I will not let this CD cover in dust anyway. 
Standout tracks: "Świątynia zepsucia", “Burial Mound” 
Verdict: 75/100 

Затемно - В петле

Затемно - В петле (AESTHETIC DEATH Productions - CD 2019)
Затемно is another mysterious band from Aesthetic Death Productions, which I had a chance to learn about recently and "В петле" is actually a debut album from this Russian project (you can pronounce their name as Zatemno). And well, Russians have quite a vast pagan / folky black metal scene, with an impressive number of better or worse bands. Затемно blends into this scene perfectly, I think, but at the same time I think that their music is unique and has quality better than most of the Russian bands I have listened to before. 
On one hand there's enough of black metal there to please some orthodox fans of this music, with that harsh sound and vicious riffage, often played in fast, ferocious tempo ("Вступление"), what gives a huge contrast to some other parts of the album. To be honest, as a black metal band Затемно is already good enough to capture my interest. Especially when they combine harsh black metal riffs with an accordion for instance. That sounds just awesome. But there's also a second face of their music, which is more experimental, intriguing and is like day and night / completely opposite to the black metal sound. It’s folky, calm, acoustic music. Song like "Лишь только ветер" takes you into the Russian vast lands, if you close your eyes, you could feel like sitting by the fire in such desolated place. And this music is a nice soundtrack to such visions. Towards the end of "Лишь только ветер", this calmness and melancholy in song is abruptly interrupted by great black metal storm - and I have to say that I really like how Затемно kept here that folky atmosphere in metal riffage, when they combined accordion and harsh guitar riffs with angry screams of Vasily, without sounding like happy “humpa-humpa” type of shitty folk metal. 
Generally "В петле" contains only four tracks and is just 36 minutes long. But I actually like that this album isn't longer, as often projects such as Затемно exaggerate, prolong their albums, extend them into barely bearable limits. I prefer shorter, but more interesting and impressive stuff. I definitely think that "В петле" comes into this category. I enjoyed this album, more than I expected, and can only recommend it. 
Verdict: 75/100 

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Crucifier - The Ninth Year

CRUCIFIER - The Ninth Year (ELEGY Records CD 2001)
Here's another retrospective material, which I've intensely played for past few days. And this one is from a band, which I think is very underrated and quite little known, despite its near 30 years long existence. This is Crucifier from USA, led by The Black Lourde of Crucifixion, who is the only original member involved in this band from its very beginning. "The Ninth Year" is a compilation, which gives you an interesting look into Crucifier's creations from the 90's, with songs from "Humans are Such Easy Prey" 1991 demo, "Crown of Thorns" 1992 demo, "By Disgrace of God" 1993 demo, "Powerless Against" 1996 EP and "Trafficking With the Devil" split with Nunslaughter. What a portion of devilish music it is!  
Stylistically I think we could put Crucifier next to the likes of Incantation, Acheron, Imprecation, Profanatica or Grand Belial's Key, depending really on what material we speak of. There're some, which sounded like a bestial death metal blasphemy alike to Incantation, but on some other releases Crucifier sounded a bit more black metal. I have to say that I prefer their purer death metal sound, I am big fan of these old US dark, satanic hordes, of their bestial evil sound, obscurity combined with heaviness... Crucifier delivered that style of metal of death perfectly, especially on "Humans are Such Easy Prey" demo. Fuckin heavy, vicious and harsh but brutal sound, some really killer doomy parts, deep, guttural vomits... Everything's there! "Crown of Thorns" demo is also in that same musical vein, with similarly raw sound and primeval, savage style. Another highlight is "By Disgrace of God" EP, originally released by Pagan Records, which simply is fantastic piece of death metal, probably the best one here! It should have been also released as a 7" vinyl, in my opinion, what a shame it has never been! 
Three years later "Powerless Against" appears and it looks like Crucifier took quite a turn in their musical direction, with black metal and even uglier, harsher sound. They lost a bit of brutality; I also think that these last two recordings aren't as good as their earlier works... Still solid, but I’m not quite as excited about them as I am for the previous works. I am glad then that Crucifier’s debut LP “Stronger than Passing Time” is again more death metal focused, it is a real crushing piece of satanic anthems. 
Definitely Crucifier came up here with recordings, which are not for everyone. I mean, harshness and almost primitive feel of this music, its obscure, morbid, satanic style will definitely loath many. I do not care for these weak people. In my opinion, this is absolutely great underground death / black metal filth, with many crushing songs, shitload of great riffs... And I just like that evil, blasphemous atmosphere of this music. It's a shame that Crucifier is so underrated, but if you worship some of these bands I mentioned above, but never had a chance to hear Crucifier, give them a chance. 
Verdict: 80/100 

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Crypt of Kerberos - The Macrodex of War

CRYPT OF KERBEROS - The Macrodex of War (BLEED Records CD 2005)
I've never been big fan of Crypt of Kerberos, to be honest, and among all Swedish death metal bands from the early 90's, they belong to my least favourite. It's all because "World of Myths" album from 1993 is so lame and pissing me off that I just can't listen to it. But Kerberos did also some better and more interesting recordings prior to their debut CD, such as two demos and 7"EPs. And all these rare recordings have been compiled on the CD titled "The Macrodex of War" (called after Macrodex, which was a band, where some Crypt of Kerberos members played previously). 
"The Macrodex of War" contains a whole bunch of cool and rare stuff. You'll find here both demos from 1991, both 7"EPs and some previously unreleased recordings. So, it is an interesting journey into the past and through the history of this rather lesser known band. 
This CD starts with "Demo#1 1991" and I have to say I like this demo a lot. It is so much better from that more progressive music on the debut album that it seems like a completely different band. Crypt of Kerberos present here really great doomy death metal, played in that very harsh and kind of primitive way (all in all, this is a demo), but I can already hear many great ideas, arrangements, melodies, riffs... First song "Sacrifice" is especially awesome, it probably is the best song this band has recorded. I really like that sluggish, but filled with some hooky melodies, Swedish death metal, highly influenced by Paradise Lost, even if it sounds sloppy and coarse. But that harshness gives this music some sort of charm, which I'm very fond of. By the way, I saw that original copy of this demo sells even for 60-80 euros on Discogs, which is just fuckin insane. 
Kerberos' second demo from 1991 contains five songs and is very alike to the first cassette, maybe slightly better produced and a bit better performed. But general idea is the same, so think of death metal focused on slow paced, heavy crushing sound and some mournful melodies. Is it any good? Oh yeah, I like both 1991 demos a lot and I think that in this sort of death metal style Crypt of Kerberos matched the quality of Eternal Darkness, if we speak of the Swedish scene. Here "Yule Horror" is especially noteworthy song. Great melodies, nice gloomy feel, some keyboards... and again, strong influence from Paradise Lost and British death / doom metal in general. 
Next up is "Cyclone of Insanity" 7"EP from 1992, probably a highlight of death metal style of Crypt of Kerberos. Band definitely improved their music in every aspect - from its diversity, ideas, arrangements, performance, etc, to the production value, while the style is pretty much intact (maybe it is slightly more up tempo, which is why sometimes the music reminds me Bolt Thrower). Which means they didn't experiment, didn't come up with that progressive style, which one year later appeared on the debut album. And that transition between both these recordings is even more weird to me. Anyway, both songs from "Cyclone of Insanity" are damn good and I cannot say anything bad about them. It kills me that I used to own the original 7", but sold it along with all the rest of my 7" collection decade ago. 
To be honest, next bunch of songs on this CD are crap. There’s a rehearsal recording from 1992which is just a mess of a recording, nothing interesting, to be honest. And there’s also a preproduction demo from 1992, where they already sound like the band I know from "World of Myths" - so, this also doesn’t convince me. So, to be honest, I could easily delete these few songs from this CD and there would be no harm. Damn, I hate these clean vocals they started to use in their music. What a joke. 
For the end, there's "Visions Beyond Darkness" left, another 7" from 1991, which is a bit odd, because it should open the whole CD, if they wanted to keep the correct chronological order of Kerberos discography. Anyway, this EP is not as good as "Cyclone of Insanity", it is very, very raw, savage and brute death metal, with that primitive feel of the early 90's demos. As I mentioned, it is not as good as the other 7", their demos were also better. But there surely is a great historical value in this recording, from a band, which just went a transformation from Macrodex to Crypt of Kerberos. 
Verdict: 70/100