Sunday, 11 August 2019

Azarath - Infernal Blasting

AZARATH - Infernal Blasting (PAGAN Records - CD 2003)
They couldn’t choose a more fitting title, "Infernal Blasting" is the most appropriate name for this album. Azarath sounds like a bloodthirsty, unstoppable beast here, which released such a fury that it can only lead to massacre and chaos. This is Azarath's second album, released back in 2003 by Pagan Records, and I think that not only it sounds much better than the already solid debut album "Demon Seed", but it turned into one of the best Polish death metal albums, which influenced a whole bunch of other Polish bands (Hetzer, etc). 
From start to finish, "Infernal Blasting" is a vicious, brutal death metal offering, which hardly knows the meaning of the word "mercy". Intense, powerful riffage, insanely fast drumming of Inferno, bestial screams of Bruno... This album has everything. Stylistically it's a bit close to Damnation (which is an obvious comparison, due to some line up connections), but Azarath is even faster and more insane and chaotic than Damnation. You could also mention (old) Deicide, Vital Remains, Krisiun, Centurian... This sort of incredibly satanic, violently sounding death metal acts. In "Infernal Blasting" there's absolutely no sign of nice sounding music, not a second of melodic accents nor anything what could be called "catchy" or "memorable". This stuff is just as ugly and chaotic as it can get. But this energy and incredible intensity is a great strength of Azarath. Since "Infernal Blasting" is closed within 30 minutes only, you won't feel that it can sound one dimensional, as it's too short for that. Songs are rather short, only a couple of them are longer than three minutes – what also helps to capture that straight forward and relentless energy with obscure, evil atmosphere. You may moan that some riffs are unreadable - but come on, this is harsh sounding, brutal death metal! If you want something nice in death metal, go and listen to fuckin Kata-wimps-klysm 
Azarath is doing what they are best at - they perform "Infernal Blasting Death Metal". And damn, I am infected with it 100%. Of course, it's not an album, which you can listen to for a whole day, but it you feel pissed off and want something to free this aggression, then play Azarath 
Standout tracks: don’t know 
Verdict: 70/100 

Epitaphe - I

An hour long album could be a challenging affair, especially if we deal with doom or death / doom metal band. Luckily, it's not a case here, also because this "Death / doom" tag is quite misleading. And also because Epitaphe from France delivers five intriguing and impressive songs, which I enjoyed a lot. I had no big expectations for "I", to be honest, I didn't think it's gonna be as good as it actually is... but the bigger surprise and pleasure is from listening to this CD. 
Epitaphe did a lot to make the journey they take us into interesting. And diversity is one of the key factors here. At first sounds of the opening song, which is a 19 minutes long monolith titled "Smouldering Darkness", I thought that it's gonna be all pretty dull. The way this song begins is quite inconspicuous, with the doomy, sorrowful melodic piece, but rather boring. But suddenly this song takes 180 degrees turn and Epitaphe plays some fantastic bestial death metal riffs and fastens things up into real death metal savagery!!! And if they slow down again, the music remains cavernous, heavy with that obscure, eerie atmosphere, which is something I absolutely love to hear. And that's exactly what I meant about the diversity of "I". Epitaphe is not afraid to bring us some calmer, melancholic stuff, even experiment a bit, but majority of this album is just neckbreaking, vicious death or death / doom metal, which I personally think fits some of these XXI century obscure beasts such as The Ruins Of Beverast, Portal, Embrace of Thorns, Antediluvian, Abyssal, Temple Nightside to name just few. But do not forget also about the old monsters such as Incantation, Esoteric... And it's fantastic, because I didn't think Epitaphe will sound like that and also because they're fuckin good at it! 
And next songs like "Downward Stream" and "Embers" continue with this style, which is all I could want now. Great thing about "I" is that these songs are very far from being typical and foreseeable. Riffs are not simplistic, even if the nature of this style of music can be felt like it's primitive and vile. They often bring a bit weird harmony or slightly progressive chords, like in that fantastic ferocious opening riff in "Downward Stream", which simply rips the fuckin head. These songs are 10 or even 20 minutes long, so it's obvious that Epitaphe had to use this time effectively and make sure that the listener does not jump off the window bored to death. So, you'll be hit with doomy passages, massive heavy riffs, blasting crushing parts, bestial, deep growls... And somewhere in the middle, there's an acoustic piece, which frankly feels to be completely misplaced haha. Just kidding. 
Anyway, I think that "I" from Epitaphe is a bloody good album, it exceeded all my expectations, I can honestly say that I became a fan of this band... and what else can I add... I can only recommend it strongly, because it's an album you cannot miss. Good work, guys. 
Standout track: "Downward Stream" 
Verdict: 85/100 

Forest Whispers - Arkany zniewolenia

FOREST WHISPERS - Arkany zniewolenia (FALLEN TEMPLE - CD 2019)
They say that it's already third Forest Whispers album, but I honestly have never heard about this band before. I don't know if it’s good or not that I never heard them before and if I lost anything or not, but I assume that if their previous albums were good then I would hear about them. But no, this is the first time I ever hear about such band, not to mention their music. Fallen Temple decided to give them a chance and released "Arkany zniewolenia" on CD. Well, I have to say that I had some bad feelings about this album only by taking a look at these hilarious band photographs - oh boy, I cannot believe bands still do such things. Well, who cares... 
Luckily, the music isn't that bad. It's actually far better than I expected. Which is good, I have no time for crappy black metal jokes. Forest Whispers intrigued me a bit and I did listen to "Arkany..." more than just couple of times only because of the review duty. Musically it is quite traditional black metal influenced by the old Scandinavian, but also old Polish black metal scenes. Without sounding raw or primitive - very good production and solid performance of the band are strong aspects of the album for sure - Forest Whispers brings us some traditional sounding riffs, melodies, which can remind you such old classics as "Stormblast", "Wicher", "Eld", "For kunsten maa vi evig vike" and so on... There's nothing spectacular or original about their black metal, but it's really solid and worth to listen to effort, I think. It's not boring, as there's a lot going on in these songs, with tempo variations, use of acoustic guitars or balance between more aggressive and atmospheric parts. Am I surprised to like it? Yes, I am, because nothing was telling me that Forest Whispers would be that good. They are though! Good riffs, good quality... It’s worthy material, so I will be coming back to this album for sure. 
Verdict: 70/100 

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Deus Mortem - Demons of Matter and the Shells of the Dead

DEUS MORTEM - Demons of Matter and the Shells of the Dead (MALIGNANT VOICES - LP 2017)
Deus Mortem is definitely one of the leading Polish black metal bands, in my opinion, and this EP "Demons of Matter and the Shells of the Dead" is a fantastic continuation of "Emanations of the Black Light", but even better! 
There are only three songs here, but each is a fuckin killer. It starts with "The Higher Sun", which is a short, but very fast, vicious and aggressive black metal piece that immediately sets the hateful and truly malicious aura in the music. When I hear it, I immediately have Thunderbolt in my mind, which is obviously not a coincidental comparison. Deus Mortem is for me a great descendant of Thunderbolt!!! But the best on this EP comes with "Penetrating the Veils of Negativity". This song is near ten minutes long and is very diverse piece, full of great riffs, ideas and atmosphere. First off, it contains some more atmospheric, yet very harsh and obscure black metal parts, all in the traditional second wave style. But along slower parts, there's also a lot of the aggressive and savage, fierce black metal attack. It all just sounds excellent, I dare to say it’s one of the best black metal songs from the Polish scene ever composed. 
Finally "Olam haBeriahcomes and it is again slower piece. I think it's the most memorable song from this EP, there's great dark aura in it, even some keyboards were used in the background, a fine melodic guitar lines... It's absolutely great track, very opposite to the ferocity of opening song, but it sounds awesome. It confirms that Deus Mortem feels comfortable in this harsh, aggressive black metal, but is not limited to just one type of playing. Which is also why "Demons of Matter and the Shells of the Dead" is such a good EP, I like it even more than Deus Mortem's debut album. Killer. 
Standout track: "Penetrating the Veils of Negativity" 
Verdict: 85/100 

Centinex - Redeeming Filth

CENTINEX - Redeeming Filth (AGONIA Records - LP 2014)
When Centinex announced their return after few years when the band was buried in the rotten grave, I was sceptical. Why call it quits and then bring the dead corpse back? Especially that they had new band Demonical, which was doing so, so well and even exceeded my expectations, also when compared to Centinex. But "Redeeming Filth" came out in 2014, fine! But I am afraid that I still cannot say that this album convinced me that the reunion was necessary (yes, I know that band can do whatever they want, it's their band - but (!) I have right for my opinion). It doesn't matter how much I try, I just can't shake off the feeling that this album is soooo mediocre that it's just redundant. 
Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong about the technical side of this record. The production of "Redeeming Filth" is excellent, these guys are very good musicians, know well what death metal is about and their skills are great. They came out here with several killer riffs, I like the vocals of Alexander Högbom a lot, so technically I can listen to this album with no problems. But it doesn't help to get rid of this feeling that "Redeeming Filth" is just mediocre album and my life wouldn't be emptier if it has never been recorded. 
There're two problems here. First - "Redeeming Filth" doesn't sound like Centinex from their earlier albums. Forget about anything they have recorded between 1992's "Subconscious Lobotomy" and 2005's "World Declension". Forget about the melodic, dark and vicious death metal, which was their domain before. Instead "Redeeming Filth" is a simplistic, groovy death metal in the US style of bands such as Obituary, Six Feet Under, Massacre or Bone Gnawer. Not my favourite style of death metal, to be honest. Which is maybe why I feel so quickly bored when I listen to this album. I feel like I've been listening to the same recycled riffs over and over again, the same vocal lines, with the same tempo and rhythm. Simplistic and so typical song structures based on verse / chorus / verse / chorus and foreseeble arrangements do not help. Of course there are couple of songs, which standout on the album. And as I mentioned, generally this album is OK, it's solid, it's listenable death metal piece... But so quickly forgettable that I think it's just unnecessary to bother your head with it. In that case, I'm glad there's only 32 minutes of music, otherwise it would only be even more monotonous. I can live with 32 minutes and give it a spin once every five years maybe. 
Standout tracks: "Unrestrained", "Moist Purple Skin"  
Verdict: 65/100