Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Betrayer / Neolith - Beware / Of the Angel and His Orison

BETRAYER / NEOLITH - Beware / Of the Angel and His Orison (FALLEN TEMPLE - Split 7"EP 2014)
Here is a very special seven inch! Why? Because it contains a brand new song from the resurrected Betrayer! And yes, I know that nowadays many old bands are coming back from the dead, some only intend doing few gigs, some decide to record new music (and that in 90% of the cases turns into something totally mediocre and forgettable, proving that we wouldn’t lose anything if these bands never reformed)… But Betrayer was always kind of special band for me, as they along with some other Polish death metal bands, were one of my truly favourites back in the early 90’s. I loved to listen to “Necromantical Exmortis” and later when I bought “Calamity” cassette I was simply blown away. Now, 20 years later, I am able to listen to the new song from Betrayer and for me it is like a special event, you know?
OK, it is only one song, titled “Beware” (which I already knew from the video the band did few months ago), but it is great enough to rise interest and appetite for some more! Yes! What I like about “Beware” is how natural it sounds, not like something what was forced because of the current trends or something… And it sounds old school, because this is old band and Berial was there, back in the early 90’s! What I also like is that while some of these old crews, which came back decided either to update their sound and style into more modern stuff or forced themselves to play something what sounds not natural and passionless, but in case of Betrayer it is the opposite! “Beware” has a wonderful, harsh and organic production and the song simply sounds like old, classic death metal. Great riffs and vocals, a lot of diversity within one track (slower parts, some more melodic leads and even fast, blasting stuff… do you need anything more?!). It is really good track and after hearing it I can only hope to hear some more from Betrayer!
But hold on! Betrayer’s “Beware” is on side A, while on side B there’s a new song from band called Neolith. And I must be honest here – I’ve never been much into this band. I have heard some of their early stuff and it was just boring doomy death metal, so typical for the end of the 90’s Polish scene that it quickly got forgotten. And maybe it is why I never bothered to check any recordings of Neolith from the 00’s. But after hearing this split with Betrayer I must update my collection quickly, because “Of the Angel and His Orison” sounds truly fuckin awesome. When compared to Betrayer, this song sounds more like modern extreme death / black metal stuff, maybe even close to other Polish giants like Hate and Behemoth, but damn, it is great anyway! Very powerful and aggressive, very energetic and perfectly sounding, blasting stuff, with some truly killer riffs and ideas. Yes, I liked it a lot. Definitely Neolith turned out to be a great surprise, something I did not expect to be that good! And I suppose there’s only one thing, which I do not like – which are some of the background keyboard parts used in few moments, but it is nothing what would make me dislike the whole song. No way! “Of the Angel and His Orison” is really damn awesome!

Final rate: 80/100

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Genius Ultor - Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce

GENIUS ULTOR - Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce (ARACHNOPHOBIA - CD 2014)
I already managed to almost forget about such project as Genius Ultor, although couple of years ago I gave their debut album “Dzień nocy” quite a positive review. To those, who’re not familiar with Genius Ultor let me just say that it is a project of the members of Stillborn, who’re quite respected death / black metal band here in Poland. But the debut CD of GU was released in 2010! Since then the silence has covered the project and the only sign of life from those guys was Stillborn’s “Los Asesinos del Sur” album… and then Ataman Tolovy was active solo, recording several materials for his killer project called Turin Turambar. But finally the time was right to do another Genius Ultor, whose second album came through Arachnophobia – and that is another really awesome release from this small underground label! Yes, I still can’t shake off after the magnificent Odraza “Esperalem tkane” CD and the label attacks with Genius Ultor! Trust me, I spent last couple of weeks, listening to “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” and this album gets better and better with every listen. I mean, I was impressed since the beginning, really, but now when I know all these songs pretty well I am also finally ready to review the album and I am also sure that it won’t be an exaggeration or some ass-kissing, if I say that it’s yet another awesome Polish black metal album!
But there can be a debate whether we should call “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” a black metal at all? Not that it would really matter, I suppose that the band won’t give a damn shit about labelling their music… but the fact is that Genius Ultor is far away from the typical, classically meant black metal releases from Scandinavia. Some Polish bands, just like the mentioned Odraza, have created some sort of unique sound and style, special feeling and atmosphere, and even if their music is rooted in the black metal style, then combined with this uniqueness the result is just something different and something out of ordinary. And Genius Ultor is also such exceptional band. Another thing is whether an album like “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” will be able to speak and reach to non Polish listeners, as I have a feeling like they won’t be able to understand it at all… just look at the lyrics. All texts on “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” have a special character, are unordinary. They are also, together with the very characteristic vocal sound of Wirus, responsible for creating the atmosphere on the album. So, if you don’t understand the lyrics, then you may lose the essence of the whole material. So, better learn Polish, if you want to find out what “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” is all about!
So, the vocals and lyrics do give something unique to the album. But the music I dare to say is also far from typical black metal stuff. Sure, Genius Ultor managed to create a dense, thick and black as a tar, dark and sick atmosphere! Yes, some of these riffs are almost hypnotizing, but the whole album is full of variety and there are many slower, mid and fast parts spread through all seven tracks. But that diversity, along with quite original way of playing and arranging the songs and vocals, are what makes the album so interesting. Many great riffs, many totally killer parts… and every song will surprise with something awesome and memorable. The title song, then “Koniec wszystkiego co znamy”, “Zwycięstwo” – these songs will show you what Genius Ultor is all about. And in the end we have an acoustic track titled “Krew nie woda”, which is based on Impaled Nazarene “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”… OK, I don’t remember the original at all, as last time I have listened to anything from Impaled Nazarene was over a decade ago (I’m just not a fan!), but this acoustic song, with great harsh or clean vocals sound fantastic and so weird hehe! It just shows that bands like Genius Ultor have no boundaries… Also in such “Koniec wszystkiego co znamy” you’ll find a mid part, which is so far away from the known and common black metal playing. But that’s the strength of this band, especially when they put such fragment between fast, blasting black metal! Sometimes the music has the simplicity and dirtiness of old punk, just like in “Kataryniarz”, which is filthy, vulgar, uncompromising and aggressive… and cold as dead. And if there’s a song, which really is close to Impaled Nazarene, then it probably is “Zło przenajświętsze”.
Bands like Genius Ultor have their own vision for extreme music and black metal. Albums like “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” are brave and unordinary, and I am not sure whether everyone will really enjoy this stuff, for it’s just not like the typical black metal. And there are these vocals and lyrics, which will probably sound so weird for non Polish listeners... maybe this is why we, Poles, worship such albums and at the same time they don’t reach as many maniacs abroad. But come on! You all listen to Norwegian, German or French lyrics, so do that also with Polish black metal and I can assure you that “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” will strike you hard and won’t leave you careless. This is simply a very good album, indeed!
Standout tracks: “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce”, „Zwycięstwo”, “Koniec wszystkiego co znamy”, „Kataryniarz”

Final rate: 85/100

Morthus - The Abyss

MORTHUS - The Abyss (Self financed CD 2014)
Just look at that! What a sign of times it is that a complete newcomer and unknown band is able to self release their demo (or they called it an EP??) in such professional and cool way! Nowadays you simply don’t need a big budget and record label behind you to have a CD or digipack financed. Of course it also means that every crap can be now released “officially” and this way the scene is flooded with millions of anonymous bands, anonymous EPs / albums or whatever, of which many are probably totally worthless, but that’s not something what really takes away sleep from me. If there are such possibilities, then it’s nothing wrong that people take the chance and use it… and if the music sucks, then even the best packaging won’t help and that CD shall be flashed in the toiled. Here is a band called Morthus, which is quite young Polish band and they just really nicely self released their three tracker titled “The Abyss”. Quality digipack, great artwork… all looks really nice here, so congrats to the band for having such a cool idea for the digipack! Luckily for the band, the music is also decent and good enough, so it is not a wasted money and time!
I’m not saying that “The Abyss” impressed and crushed me totally. No, it’s not that good, but I am also far from saying it is worthless. I actually really like this demo, I like these songs and the whole experience when listening to “The Abyss” was more than positive. Sure, Morthus is still rather a second league band, kind of mediocre, but when I listen to their music I can see a lot of potential to become something better and better and it’s worthy not only to listen to “The Abyss” and enjoy three quite good songs, but it’s also worthy to remember the band name, ‘cause who knows what will they be capable of in the future? Musically it is quite melodic death metal, with a small hint of black metal a’la Sweden. I guess I can say that such Dissection, especially from “Reinkaos” LP, was a great influence for Morthus… just listen to “In the White Wolf’s Kingdom”, which I think is the best track here. But really all three songs from “The Abyss” are good, maybe sometimes too melodic for my taste (yeah hehe!) and sometimes I would prefer some faster, more aggressive and crushing stuff, but what the hell… it is definitely good enough to enjoy several listens. What else… good production, some cool riffs (like the opening old school theme for “Beast from the Abyss”), nice vocals arrangements and song structures, divided between more aggressive and melodic stuff... Morthus has everything people like in this sort of playing. So, keep your eyes open for the future of this young band.

Final rate: 70/100

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Judecca - Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond

JUDECCA - Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond (Dan's Crypt Records - CD 2013)
Many times I have said that I like the idea of re-releasing some old, long time unavailable albums or even better - compilations of old demos, EPs and whatever else you can find from the old days… Great thing is that the labels started to exhume many less known or sometimes even totally unknown bands, so this way these re-issues give them kind of a second life. Hmm, maybe not always everything from the past is utterly excellent and perfect, not everything can be called cult and classic, some bands were more mediocre, but you know… we don’t have to buy everything. And if we do, then such compilations quickly become a fine lesson in the history of death metal. I say death metal, because this genre gets more attention and travels into the past more than any other around these days. Here is another such piece of ancient death metal, a compilation, which will introduce you to American band called Judecca. You must admit that this Florida based band, active between 1991-96 has never been as known as some other famous Floridian acts… “Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond” compiles almost all – if not all? – their recordings, which were "Scenes of an Obscure Death" demo (1993), "Awakened by the Stench of the Dead" EP (1993), "Beyond, What the Eyes Can't See..." album (1996) and finally "Eternal Rest" demo (1992). I must admit that I only briefly knew the full length album of Judecca before, I think I have listened to it several times in the past, but I remembered completely nothing from it, so definitely “Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond” seemed to be a lesson I needed to get to know Judecca. Am I now happy with the music of this old band? Well, as I mentioned there were some killer and more mediocre bands back in the past and for me Judecca was the latter, really. I am not saying that they were bad, oh no… they were OK, but when I listen to this compilation I truly have a feeling that their death metal was nothing exceptional, but just typical and average… Or let’s just say that they had better and worse recordings in their short discography.
Definitely the best thing, which Judecca has recorded was their full length album "Beyond, What the Eyes Can't See...". One of the main reasons for that is the fact that it has the best production from all their recordings. Really, most of Judecca stuff did not sound the best and that was taking away a lot of goodness from them. The album also has pretty rough and truly underground production, it is nothing even close to the clear and powerful Floridian productions, which you can find in other, more popular, bands… It is nothing similar to Morrisound for example… So, in that case it may lack that powerful, massive sound, which would nail you to the ground, but as it is, it sounds fine for me anyway. I am not gonna complain much about it here. The album is pretty short, with barely 25 minutes on the clock and nine songs in total, so each is like a quick punch in the face. There are some very good tracks here, and definitely Judecca was getting better and better, when comparing material from the album to their demos. Better arrangements, more brutal and aggressive stuff, often faster and more technical… take such “The Undead” for example, what a fine opener! But the whole album is very solid and I definitely like it. And if you like some sick stuff, then surely such lyrics as “The Stench of an Undouched Cunt” will be perfect for all you anal sex lovers hehe!
Sadly, not all stuff, which Judecca recorded was so good… Take such "Scenes of an Obscure Death" demo for example. Not only it is a bad sounding stuff, but it is so deprived of the powerful energy… damn! Death metal riffs should crush you, be damn heavy and brutal, while in case of this demo it is just completely flat. The drums are like a rehearsal, guitars have no power and brutality… The material on this demo is just mediocre, to be honest, it is very simple, not to say it is just primitive, archaic, basic death metal… Sure, some such old demos grew old really well, but this is not something what I can say about "Scenes of an Obscure Death". Not a bad demo, but not one, which I would really love. Probably the song called “Evil Born” is the best one here, also “Necrosis”, with some nice “Leprosy” era Death like riffs, but quality wise far away from the legends. Listen to such songs like “Left to Die” (oh, these Neanderthal riffs, simple drums and truly awful guitar solo!!!! Primitive to the bone!) and tell me if they really can blow you away. I doubt that. Mediocre, nothing more than that.
Luckily “Awakened by the Stench of the Dead” EP is much better, it is really cool single, with not bad sounding three songs. I like “The Black Blood of Christ” probably the most, as it is so different to the other songs, with kind of sorrowful touch in it and lots of acoustic guitar parts thrown within the whole song structure. On this EP you’ll find also a new version of “Evil Born”, which obviously sounds even better than on the demo. And finally there’s also “Eternal Rest” demo, which was Judecca debut recording... Again, very raw and harsh sound, very archaic death metal, but I think I like this demo more than "Scenes of an Obscure Death", because it is faster and more intense, more relentless and the production is also more what I like... There are some fine songs here, for example listen to the title track – what a killer tune it is! And these keyboards… damn, that was something unusual for a Floridian death metal band!
So, this is everything what Judecca has recorded. As I mentioned already several times before, for me it was rather average death metal band, not one, which you could put in your top 50, but on the other hand they were good enough to be listened to and have such a tribute, which this compilation CD is. All in all, we love such lessons in death metal history, don’t we? I do, so I had a lot of joy, when listening to “Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond”. And even if it is rather mediocre band, then this compilation is still worthy to get, for example for the “Beyond, What the Eyes Can't See...”, which is really cool. The whole CD comes with 12 page booklet, sadly what I miss here is the band’s detailed history, maybe some words from the band members or an interview… maybe also some more old photos… you know, all the archive, which is essential on such compilation. But you will find here all the lyrics, which is also OK, I guess.

Final rate: 70/100

Dragon - Horda Goga

DRAGON - Horda Goga (WIFON - LP 1989)
I hope that this review shall remind you – and to some, this review will probably only introduce – an album, which I think is quite forgotten nowadays. So maybe it is a time to bring attention to it again, as it deserves it totally! Personally I consider this debut album of Dragon as one of the best Polish albums recorded in the 80’s and more so, together with Kat’s “Oddech wymarłych swiatów” (which will always be my number one of the 80’s!), it is in my top two. So, here I have this old vinyl version released by Wifon and every time I play it, it is just a pure slaughter! Of course some may prefer the English version of “Horda Goga”, titled “Horde of Gog”, which was released a year later … but I guess it doesn’t matter. Actually I’m thinking and really I can’t remember if I have ever even heard the English version? Why bother? Well, interesting fact about both versions is that each was recorded with a different vocalist - “Horde of Gog” was recorded with Grzegorz Kupczyk from Turbo, not by Marek Wojcieski, who you can hear on “Horda Goga”. More so, the rumour says that the band didn’t even know that the label made Kupczyk record English versions of the vocals hehe! Hardly believable these days, but back in the 80’s everything was possible. So, I don’t even care about “Horde of Gog”, I just play “Horda Goga” and enjoy some truly awesome songs! And trust me, there are nine killer tunes on this vinyl!
First thing, which you’ll notice is the total old school artwork! It is typical 80’s heavy metal cover, you know… dragons, executioners, death… All these fantasy artworks look killer though! And then the music! “Horda Goga” is a thrash / death metal masterpiece, bursting with aggression and energy, with killer, razor sharp riffs, which will cut you deep and great atmosphere, characteristic for these early extreme metal records. And especially in Poland, such sort of thrash / death had its own charm and was something very characteristic, something what later was never repeated… You know, listen to the early demo recordings of such Vader, Armagedon, Merciless Death, Thanatos or Megaslaughter – they all have something in common. They were unique in their own way, with the typical raw Polish production, killer thrashing riffs mixed with early death metal aggression, fantastic harsh vocals… And “Horda Goga” is another fine and exact example for that! More so (as I already mentioned) for me it is together with “Oddech wymarłych swiatów”, the best 80’s Polish metal album! So amazing!
When you listen to “Horda Goga” today you feel how archaic this LP is! This is a real relict of the ancient times, of the early extreme metal scene and you know, today no one plays like this anymore. Show me a band, who would have such sound, such riffs and ideas and more so, who would have vocals like that! Because vocals on “Horda Goga” are of the best and most characteristic things of it! Marek Wojcieski did excellent job here, singing some brilliant parts and mixing harsh screams, growls with clean vocals… Clean vocals, used mainly in choruses, are something, what you’ll remember especially. They sound bloody awesome. Wojcieski sometimes reminds me Roman Kostrzewski, but it is just another quality. And the effect is amazing, if you listen to such songs as “Wieczne odpoczywanie, “Beliar” or “Armagedon”. Musically, you can think of the 80’s thrash metal, of bands like Kat, Turbo, Merciless Death, mixed with some Possessed, “Show No Mercy” era Slayer, some vintage Metallica and the German monsters like Kreator and Destruction… Finally there’s also a feeling, which reminds me some South American extreme bands from late 80’s / early 90’s! But here it is aggressive thrash / death metal played in the East European way! But it is not just that! The arrangements, song structures are just impossibly good. A lot of killer riffs, which are aggressive, but often also melodic, so they remind me even some early Metallica (like the opening theme in “Here Comes the Dragon”)… The whole stuff is wonderfully composed, sounds perfect and it’s also memorable as hell; you’ll remember some of these choruses immediately and sing them next time! Personally I like song titled “Beliar” the most, because it seems to be the most vicious and dark track, with killer chorus: “Beliar – sługa Diabła!!!”. Damn good! “Kapłani zdrady” also belongs to these faster and more aggressive tunes, finally also “Wieczne odpoczywanie”, “Armagedon” (that opening theme actually reminds me some epic Bathory hehe! I LOVE IT!) are phenomenal. But all songs are killer, really.
“Horda Goga” is the best achievement of Dragon, in my opinion. Although back in the early 90’s I was more a fan of “Fallen Angel”, but nowadays this album bores me a little and is just not as good as “Horda Goga”. So, I totally recommend you listening to this Dragon debut LP, as it is unique and amazing piece of thrash death metal, one which just must be in your collection. To get the vinyl is very simple and cheap, so what are you waiting for?
Standout tracks: “Beliar”, “Wieczne odpoczywanie”, “Armagedon”, “Kapłani zdrady”
Final rate: 90/100

Fördärv - Between the Eternities

FORDARV - Between the Eternities (NIGREDO - CD 2014)
Not so long ago I had a chance to listen to Fördärv’s debut MCD “The Echo of Melancholy”, which was really awesome piece of traditional, maybe slightly sorrowful but harsh, black metal. Few weeks pass by and Nigredo Records has sent me another recording of Fördärv, which now is their debut full length CD titled “Between the Eternities”. I didn’t need a special invitation, I just wanted to listen to it right away, as the debut was really cool and it is just rare, when a black metal band can really catch my interest nowadays. And “The Echo of Melancholy” surely did. Now I have “Between the Eternities” in my stereo and certainly with this album Fördärv again nailed me to the ground and proved that the classic recipes of Scandinavian black metal are still alive and are possible to be played with passion and sincerity comparable to the old bands and days.
Already the front artwork for “Between the Eternities” reminds me some classic – in this case Norwegian – black metal covers; a lovely pencil artwork by the Polish master of art Zdzisław Beksiński is just amazing and looks perfectly good on the front of this album. And do you remember the black / white pencil artworks on early Burzum or Satyricon albums? This one fits them so well! I really mean that! As for the music, don’t expect anything new and unconventional from Fördärv, because as I already mentioned, this is more or less, but a classic, traditional take on Scandinavian black metal (with huge accent on the Norwegian cults). Mainly there is a great influence from Darkthrone, but also from such acts like Burzum, Satyricon, Immortal, Troll’s “Trollstorm over Nidingjuv” and so on and on… many to mention, I suppose. And then there are also newer bands, like Armagedda or Pest, which may have been also close to recapture the essence, style and sound of the norsk BM cult and which sound close to Fördärv. And now here is 2014’s “Between the Eternities” and well… it’s been 20 or more years since the Norwegian black metal scene has exploded, when the northern sky was ablaze, but there are still bands, which are capable of writing interesting, traditional tunes. And for me Fördärv with their “Between the Eternities” also belongs to that group. Who cares, if it is nothing original or that some of these patterns have been played numerous times before… If the music is good, then it is good, nothing more matters.
And trust me, there are several killer moments on “Between the Eternities”! Take for example the opening track “Legions of Death”… harsh vocals, almost kind of hypnotizing, mostly fast riffing, which carefully builds the cold, grim atmosphere… definitely it will remind you not just Darkthrone, but bands like Swedish Pest with “In Total Contempt” LP. But I enjoyed “Taedium Vitae” song even more, as I worship that kind of slower, darker, mesmerizing, sometimes kind of melancholic, atmospheric playing in it… More so, this lengthy track has some truly killer riffs, so all in all, this surely is one of the best moments on the album. And then “As Life Turns Black...” catches my attention, as it has a killer opening theme, which will resemble you both Bathory and Immortal. And maybe it is pity the band didn’t go even deeper into such epic territory, but I like that song a lot anyway. Yes, Fördärv music is simple, is unoriginal and maybe will say that it is nothing impressive… but who would give a damn? I don’t. In my opinion “Between the Eternities” is a perfect offer for the worshipers of the classic Scandinavian black metal. And that’s all you should know now. Support the band, support the label… get “Between the Eternities”!
Standout tracks: ”Legions of Death”, “Taedium Vitae”, “As Life Turns Black”

Final rate: 72/100

Mastabah - I Hate You

MASTABAH - I Hate You (Self released CD 2014)
I honestly am not so familiar with Mastabah previous releases, which were “Purity” EP 2007 and “Quintessence of Evil” 2010 album. I think I’ve never heard anything from these materials and probably everything I know about this band is that they were formed after Dark Legion split up (and that was a band I know about a little bit more, as they had couple of full length albums released a decade and over ago for Deadsun Records). So, I was quite happy to discover that Mastabah was kind enough and sent me their newest album “I Hate You”. Finally I had a chance to listen to their music and see if all these positive opinions on this band were true or not.
And well, I have listened to “I Hate You” several times and I can’t shake off, but think that I have quite mixed feelings and opinion on this album. To be more precise – there are things on it I like a lot, but also there’s something what disturbs and bothers me, so in the end I can’t say that I like this music fully.
Let me start with the positives… and the main one is definitely the uncompromising, extreme side of Mastabah. During a great part of “I Hate You” Mastabah offers a vicious, extremely brutal and aggressive death metal, with many deadly fast, blasting parts, crushing wall of death metal riffing and awesome, obscure and ghastly growling vocals. As such Mastabah doesn’t remind me any particular bands, but maybe some small resemblances to such Krisiun or maybe even Nile can be noticed, but at the same time if you listen to their song structures, riffs, rhythm and tempo changes carefully, then it may turn out that “I Hate You” is surely not a bare, plain and simple copy of the mentioned bands, but something more than that. Anyway, such tracks as “Spectacle of Human Existence”, “Path to the Unknown” and “Danse Macabre” are fine examples for what I like in this album the most. Great guitar work, truly awesome drumming (especially those blasts and the double bass work!), some good (but also few worse) vocals… I also like some truly amazing fragments in “The Way from the Grave”.
But now the side of Mastabah, which I like less… One thing are those shrieking vocals, which I already mentioned… I just don’t like them at all. And the other one is little bit difficult to describe, but it starts with such songs as “Etude Op IV No 3” (which actually is more like an instrumental song, really, as the vocal parts are very few here…) and “Undead Orchestra”, where you can find some particular riffs, rhythms (which sometimes sound almost like a death-whatever you call it-core kind of modern extreme band) or arrangements within them, which are completely not in my liking. They sound like kind of modern death metal and I really am not a great fan of such playing at all, sorry to say. Sure, such parts do make the whole album more diverse, which many listeners will take as a good point, but variety is one thing, personal likings is another. So, in the end I am far from feeling a total enthusiasm for “I Hate You” and I am quite torn between liking and disliking it. My opinions differ from song to song and what else can I add… Nowadays there just so many better death metal albums in my opinion that I am afraid “I Hate You” will quickly get covered with dust on my shelf.
Standout tracks: “Spectacle of Human Existence”, “Path to the Unknown”, “Danse Macabre”

Final rate: 65/100

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Siaskel - Jatenentolpen Thejin

SIASKEL - Jatenentolpen Thejin (Self released - CD 2014)
I suppose for many of you this is going to be an interesting review, because it will introduce you to new band hailing from the mighty Chilean death metal scene! And the maniacs of real, obscure death underground have always had a great respect for Chile! But for me this isn’t an easy review, because even if I have listened to “Jatenentolpen Thejin” countless times and definitely liked it since the first time, it turned out it isn’t so easy to describe the album and put in the words its essence and the impression it makes. But I will give my best to do it…
“Jatenentolpen Thejin” is a debut CD for Siaskel, who on this album write about the culture, mythology and cosmogony of the native Chilean people called Selk’nam. But, if one would expect more ethnic and folk music, then he will be hugely disappointed, as nothing like that can be found on “Jatenentolpen Thejin”. Instead, the album brings an obscure, relentless and harsh take on death metal. Stylistically, the band is deeply rooted in the foundations of the genre, in the old school style, but manage to transform it into something more unique and unconventional, while still using the conventional means. I mean, this music is old school, but is nothing like any of the old 90’s albums. This music is classic death metal, but I guess there will not be many bands, which you can compare Siaskel to. Anyway, the riffing is thick and merciless, violent and sometimes also atmospheric… The arrangements are sometimes quite complex, but without going into over technical, modern style of death metal... More so, the main basis for the entire “Jatenentolpen Thejin” is to combine the atmosphere with violent, aggressive death metal. And as such, Siaskel reminds me bands such as Bloody Sign and Forest of Impaled. Majority of the album has been played in fast or mid paced tempo, what results in powerful and fierce attack, just like in songs such as “Lo'coinishi Nar Oukas”, “Howens” and “O’oke”. But I suppose that my favourite song is “Howens”, as it has a nice Vader meets Incantation feeling and crushing energy. Sometimes there’s even a small resemblance to some Krisiun works, but no way is Siaskel as monotonous as the Brazilians. Anyway, by the most of the “Jatenentolpen Thejin” Siaskel rips through the speakers like crazy and leaves no doubts that they’re just very good band. I can also point out great drumming, spotless production… Say what you want, but Chileans have the right guts to play death metal. Support the band!
Standout tracks: “Lo'coinishi Nar Oukas”, “Howens”
Final rate: 75/100

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Imperator - The Time Before Time

IMPERATOR - The Time Before Time (NAMELESS - LP 1991)
This is by far one of the most classic and cult death metal albums from Poland. And I don’t really mean the fact that “The Time Before Time” was so close to be released by Deathlike Silence… Sure, it is also an important fact and something Imperator can be proud of, but at the same time it’s secondary, more so because it never happened. More significant is the fact that it is one of the first Polish death metal records, also one of the most characteristic and original works that have ever been created in this land. Being formed behind the so called Iron Curtain and struggling with all difficulties, which bands / metallers in Poland had to fight with in the 80’s, Imperator managed to create something individual and unique. Obviously “The Time Before Time” has this kind of specific early Polish death metal charisma, something what such bands as Dragon, very early Vader, Betrayer or Merciless Death shared. But at the same time it is way different to all these other bands.
“The Time Before Time” is a difficult album. Firstly, because there is this rough and obscure production, which I think is the weakest side of the whole album… I suppose that these songs would have a bigger influence and effect if they sounded more brutal and powerful. Not that the production is bad; it is fine, but it’s just lacking something, maybe if the guitars had sharper, more crushing sound…? All in all I can say that if someone says that the album didn’t age well, then it is its sound to be blamed for it. Production aside, but songs on “The Time Before Time” do not make the listening easier as well, as they’re chaotic, with more complex structures than your average simple and straight forward death metal band from the old days. The riffing is quite specific, so it may take several listens, before you’ll discover the essence of Imperator. And that also includes the characteristic vocals of Bariel and the arrangements of the vocal parts.
Yeah, definitely if you pick these sometimes weird riffs and all the stuff, which is going on here then you may realise that it is not an album, which will hit you in the face from the first listen and will let you get through it easily. It will spill you some blood first! It is not catchy or memorable, but it is chaotic, obscure as hell and furious. The whole music invokes a strong evil and morbid feeling, reminiscent of the very early works of such Morbid Angel, Order From Chaos and Necrovore, maybe even a little bit of the prehistoric era of Possessed and Slayer, but at the same time it is different, just because Imperator definitely had their own style. There are many technical, thrashing parts on the album with crazy, sick guitar solos, but just like the debut LPs of such Possessed and Slayer, it sounds way darker and more evil than the usual thrash metal album. And more so, “The Time Before Time” is often incredibly fast, has many tempo changes, variations or something else what makes it sound quite special… but also sloppy in too many moments. It never gets close to being memorable and catchy, it always is very obscure, harsh and chaotic, but that I suppose will be an advantage for many maniacs.
But “The Time Before Time” is not just the music. The lyrics – based on Necronomicon, Sumerian myths, etc. - also give it a special feeling… of something evil, indescribable, terrifying, mysterious… Taking all these ingredients together, I must say that I do like “The Time Before Time” and have a strong respect for Imperator for being there at the time and for recording such a morbid piece of death metal in so early days. But at the same time I do admit that “The Time Before Time” is not a perfect record and there are some moments, when it is just too messy or simply not quite as good. Sure, such songs as “Eternal Might” – with this brilliant opening theme, “Abhorrence” and “Necronomicon” are great; but on the other hand such “External Extinction” is kind of mediocre (at least some of its fragments). As I mentioned before, this is not an easy album, it is not as memorable and effective as say “Abominations of Desolation” or “The Ultimate Incantation”. You may feel thrown away by some of these sick riffs and solos or Bariel’s yells. Despite that, it is a classic LP and surely it must be in everyone’s collection!
Standout tracks: “Eternal Might”, “Abhorrence”, “Necronomicon”

Final rate: 75/100

Monday, 23 June 2014

Helegion - Ritualis

HELEGION - Ritualis (ATAVISM Records - MC 2014)
OK., here I have an offer for all those, who worship black metal of the old, played in its minimalistic, almost kind of primitive and harsh, raw and cold way. This is a debut release of French band called Helegion, which the ever active Atavism Records just released on cassette. Well, I must say that sometimes I do like to comeback to some of these old materials, which bands like Infernum, Judas Iscariot, Thule, Ungod, Graveland, Osculum Infame and so on and on (too many to mention) recorded and released back in the 90’s. And I mention that because “Ritualis” is reminding me such old bands / recordings… Even if stylistically it is not always exactly the same stuff, then the atmosphere and general feeling are totally like on the classic black metal releases from the 90’s! So, if you’re into them, then Helegion is for you.
And my review of “Ritualis” shall be rather short, because there’s not much to say. Cold, raw sounding, simple, minimalistic black metal, played in the classic way, mainly mid or slow paced, but also with some typical up tempo parts here and there, which will remind even some early Darkthrone... This is Helegion. What I like about “Ritualis” is that the classic black metal has been played here with passion and Helegion has enough ideas to make some interesting songs, not just a boring one tempo / one riff crap. There’s enough variety in this demo, to make it interesting; from fast parts to almost melancholic and sorrowful moments. Yes, it is simple, but not annoying primitive, if you know what I mean. With the classic Beherit cover “The Gates of Nanna” (what a boring choice, really) the whole “Ritualis” is a great offer to die hard black metal maniacs.

Final rate: 69/100

A Canorous Quintet - Reflections of the Mirror

A CANOROUS QUINTET - Reflections of the Mirror (Temple of Darkness Records - 7"EP 2012)
I’m sure most of you remember in the mid 90’s and the awesome roster of No Fashion Records. This label gathered several Swedish bands, which all played kind of melodic, but often furious black / death metal… Let me just remind you such acts like Dissection, Vinterland, Lord Belial, Sacramentum, Throne of Ahaz, A Canorous Quintet, Dawn, Ablaze My Sorrow, Decameron, The Moaning and so on and on… Obviously some of these bands were better, some worse, but generally I really liked this style and sound. A Canorous Quintet was one of the most intriguing of all, with two truly awesome albums and also quite good MCD… They split up in 1999 and then formed The Plague / This Ending, but I still like to listen to the albums of A Canorous Quintet, especially the truly amazing debut full length album “Silence of the World Beyond”. And just when I thought that I will never ever have a chance to hear anything new from those Swedes, Temple of Darkness Records puts out a 7”EP titled “Reflections of the Mirror”. The story behind this single is quite cool. It contains two songs, which were found on the old 1995 rehearsal tapes of A Canorous Quintet, when the band was composing and arranging the material for their first album. Somehow, both tracks were left behind and not included on the album and almost forgotten, until recently when they were found. Linus Norbrant (guitars), Fredrik Andersson (drums) and Marten Hansen (vocals) – the core of A Canorous Quintet - decided to record these songs finally and save them from oblivion. Damn! I think this is just excellent decision!
Why? Well, I like “Silence of the World Beyond” a lot, but I think that the songs from “Reflections of the Mirror” are probably the best, which A Canorous Quintet has ever composed / recorded! I really have no idea why both have been left behind and weren’t included to the album, but in my opinion it was a mistake, as both tracks are truly excellent. The more glad I am then that they have been recorded finally and that I was able to get a copy of this 7”EP. Yes! What an awesome stuff! The thing, which I like most about this EP is that it truly sounds like material, which could have been recorded back in the mid 90’s. The sound quality – perfect for this style in my opinion – is so characteristic for these Swedish bands I mentioned above that you couldn’t mistake it with anything else. Over 15 years have passed, but the sound of “Reflections of the Mirror” is still almost identical and it truly reminds me such “Welcome to My Last Chapter”, “The Somberlain”, “Far Away From the Sun” and obviously also “Silence of the World Beyond”. And it is awesome, because this sound was so special and corresponded perfectly with these melodic, but harsh and aggressive playing.
And I am totally happy that the time didn’t have an impact on the music and it just sounds like old classics. When recording these songs in Autumn 2011, A Canorous Quintet didn’t try to make them sound more modern and like the stuff from more recently recorded albums. “Reflections of the Mirror” feels like it was recorded back in 1995 at The Abyss Studio or Unsound and that is the only way I want them and A Canorous Quintet to sound like! Finally I must admit that both tracks, speaking of the riffs, melodies, arrangements, are just AMAZING! It is perfect melodic death / black metal, in the vein of Dissection, Sacramentum, Lord Belial, Vinterland and others… The title song is so damn good! I love how memorable it is, with the killer melodic theme, which opens the song and then when it speeds up… it is a perfect blend of aggression, ferocity and mournful, melancholic black metal. And the second track, “The Offering”, starts with an acoustic theme, which will remind you Dissection, but again, it has some killer fast parts, as well as some slower and more melodic… For me this is the essence of the old melodic black / death metal from Sweden. And all fans of the bands, which I mentioned in this review must get “Reflections of the Mirror”. I dare to say it is the finest piece of such music, which was released every since the late 90’s.

Final rate: 90/100

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Dawn - The Eternal Forest - Demo Years 91-93

DAWN - The Eternal Forest - Demo Years 91-93 (CENTURY MEDIA - LP 2014)
And yet another compilation, which gathers early demo recordings of an old, long time inactive band. Yes, I know that some of you may feel already pushed away by all those reissues, etc, but who cares… nobody stands there with a gun pointed to your head, forcing you to buy this stuff. I personally like many of these compilations, old album reissues, boxes or whatever, so I also buy many of them. Not all, as some are of bands, which just don’t mean anything to me, but quite few are just worthy to get reminded. Here Century Media picked up an old Swedish crew once called Dawn. And once I have found out that there will a demo compilation of Dawn I knew I will have to get a copy… Why? Well, I really like Dawn’s “Slaughtersun (Crown of the Triarchy)” album! And also the two previous to “Slaughtersun” materials are great. But I know Dawn as a melodic black metal band, so I was really curious about their beginnings, about the three demos, which they did before “Nær Sólen Gar Niþer For Evogher” album – an album, which brought a change of style, from typical death metal to more black metal stuff. I never had a chance to hear any of Dawn demos until this compilation was released, so this is why I just had to get myself a copy. “The Eternal Forest - Demo Years 91-93” came in various versions, starting with the CD and two vinyl versions, one of which I got for myself. The vinyl may not be released in any special way; it is very simple, actually, contains just an insert with the demo covers, info about them plus several archival photographs. Nothing more, really, but I guess it is decent enough… So, let’s check what was Dawn like in their early beginnings!
“The Eternal Forest - Demo Years 91-93” exhumes three demos: “Demo 1” from 1992, “Apparition” from 1992 and “Promotional demo” from 1993. The second of these demos was also released as a split with totally unknown Mexican Pyphomgertum and for this split it was renamed to “The Eternal Forest”, so now you know where is the title for the whole compilation coming from. In total we have 45 minutes of old school stuff, so let’s go!
Everything starts with “The Eternal Forest / The Apparition” demo and damn! This is just amazing, godly stuff! I have heard many positive and great opinions on this demo and I can finally hear what these people meant. It truly is a superb material, it is vicious, aggressive, often fast but also relatively melodic and dark death metal, which I think I can compare to such bands as Uncanny and Fulmination and even slightly to such Swedes as (early) Dissection and Sacramentum, which is no surprise I guess. Anyway, this is a superb demo, for example the first song “In the Depths of My Soul” sounds so damn awesome that I can only say it sounds perfect to me. And then there are also another great hymns like “Incantation of Unholyness”, which starts with great melodic theme and then speeds up into some fuckin furious death metal. I guess that when I listen to “Incantation of Unholyness” I can mention only one thing, which I think could have been done better and that is the sound and loudness of the snare drum in the fast moments. It is not totally wrong, but maybe if it was more quiet then it would be better. Anyway, “The Eternal Frost / The Apparition” is great. All songs sound fantastic, I love the riffs, the arrangements, the atmosphere and ferocity of the music of Dawn on this demo, so yes, even if it was only for this one demo, this compilation is already worthy to get. And if you like melodic, but vicious and fast death metal in the classic Swedish vein, then it will sound awesome to you as well.
Side B brings the two remaining demos, starting with “Promotional Demo” from 1993. This demo sounds alike to “The Apparition”, so the similarities to the melodic death / black metal and bands like Uncanny, Fulmination, Sacramentum, A Canorous Quintet and even to a very early Marduk will be audible, of corpse. I must say that I again like the music a lot, but also production here is just awesome, as this time the band recorded their songs at the famous Unisound Studio with Dan Swano and that was always a sign for something great! “In the Depths of My Soul” is the best song here, I think, but the entire material is impressive and classic Swedish death metal demo from the old days.
Finally the last demo… well, this one sounds most rough and archaic, if I can say so. The sound quality is typical for the old death metal demos and also the music is very typical for these old days. When compared to the future recordings, you’ll realize there are no melodies as much, no harmonies or black metal atmosphere, but the whole is just a shredding brutality (as their old flyer was saying hehe!), sometimes it’s almost kind of grinding death metal. It is in the same vein as demos from Abhorrence, Convulse and all the other Scandinavian stuff. There are just two songs on that demo, but I like it a lot. I like the feeling of such old demo tapes. They don’t need to be original or professionally recorded; usually it is the atmosphere and that energy, what makes them sound so damn awesome and special. And it definitely is the case here with Dawn’s debut demo.
To conclude then – yet another fine compilation. This LP may not be released in such an impressive way say Abhorrence “Completely Vulgar”, but who cares… The music is truly awesome here!

Final rate: 80/100

Necromantia - The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven

NECROMANTIA - The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven (DOCKYARD 1 Records - CD 2007)
Necromantia is a band, which I think every black metal maniac must know and worship. Yes, you must, because this is one of the most unique, characteristic and genius bands that the scene has ever spawned. I always liked them more than all other Greek devil worshippers and even if the Scandinavian scene is my favourite, then this one band is also in my top favourites list. I truly worship all their early recordings, finishing off with the brilliant “IV: Malice”… Sadly, after this album I lost Necromantia from the sight for few years, so I have never been able to hear the stuff they released in the 2000’s. But finally I managed to get “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” album – not on vinyl, which I would love to have, as I collected all early Necromantia stuff on LP – but on CD, but it’s better this way than nothing. I had huge expectations towards this album and so, did Necromantia meet them? Well, not entirely.
But let’s clear all things out. I am not saying that “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” is bad album. No fuckin way! It is still damn cool, classic Necromantia stuff! One can recognize the band’s style from the first minute; style, which is so characteristic, so unique and also so influential and possessing. They always had their own style and sound; using two distorted bass guitars (one of which is 8 string bass!), instead of the typical guitars must force a special way of playing, special arrangements and finally also a special, exceptional sound. This way of playing was crafted already in the band’s early demos and then only perfected through the years. On “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” Necromantia still sounds like the same band, but obviously they have progressed a lot and on this album their music is first and foremost way more symphonic than in the old days. The classical, symphonic music must have influenced the band in a great way, so “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” is filled with orchestral keyboards, some quotes from the classical music (already in the opening, title, track you can hear one)… The song structures and arrangements are closer to the classical music than to black metal… a lot is going on in every song, the music is not as simple and it may not even be an easy listen, it does require few listening sessions if you want to comprehend everything and get devoured by these sounds... but in the end it all works. Maybe not with the best results in Necromantia history, but surely they didn’t go below the high level of quality, which was raised high already in the early 90’s.
I guess that the style of nowadays Necromantia can bring two reactions: first is the enjoyment, as the band really creates some brilliant and amazing songs. But two, would be that the style deprived Necromantia of that evil, occult and truly damn dark atmosphere, which was present on their early albums. Surely, the band still base the whole concept on the occultism, alchemy, Satanism and such, but if you listen to the early LPs such as “Scarlet Evil Witching Black” you just feel HIS presence, the atmosphere of this record is just possessing… “The Sound of Lucifer Storming Heaven” may not have that… It doesn’t mean it is a bad album, it is just slightly different. There is a collection of great songs, starting with the very classic Greek black metal anthem “Order of the Black Sphinx” and later going through some more excellent and memorable songs, of which I especially like such “For the Elder Magi: I - Eibon the Necromancer”, which also the fans of such Septic Flesh will like totally. Or listen to the genius of “Knights of the Black and White Eagle”! There is a lot going on in every track; orchestral parts have been mixed with some furious black metal, all played in the Necromantical way… keyboards are playing a huge role in the music and fill up the entire atmosphere in great way. Finally the vocals are mainly a typical shriek of the Magus Wampyr Daoloth (I do admit that on this LP not always they sound that good…), but here and there it is mixed with more choral, clean singing to underline the epic side of the music. All in all, Necromantia once more has provided us with a good album, which is so different to the majority of stuff, which is released nowadays. I cannot say that it is my favourite album of the band, it has many ups, but also some downs, but generally I think it truly is good effort. Such songs as ‘Knights of the Black and White Eagle” and “Les Litanies de Satan - Act II: From Hell “ are prove for Necromantia genius.
Praise to the mighty Eibon!
Standout tracks: “For the Elder Magi: I - Eibon the Necromancer”, “Knights of the Black and White Eagle”, “Les Litanies de Satan - Act II: From Hell”

Final rate: 70/100

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Thunderbolt - Inhuman Ritual Massmurder

THUNDERBOLT - Inhuman Ritual Massmurder (AGONIA Records - LP 2005)
At some point, back in the early 00’s I thought that the black metal scene is slowly dying, bringing less and less really exciting and worthy bands. Of corpse the history turned out totally different and now I can say that the devil’s spawn has bred a lot of totally killer and amazing bands, but back then… well, only very few were that good. Things started to change first in Sweden, then also in some other countries, like Germania and Norway… and finally also Poland has spawned some killer troops of hell! And Thunderbolt is one of the best bands that this country has ever spat out. And their 2004’s album “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” belongs to my top three of the best Polish black metal records ever! Yes! Of corpse this is already Thunderbolt’s third LP and the two previous ones are also damn killer, but I feel like with “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder”, musically, the band reached a new level. Everything, what you can hear on this album sounds fantastic and is simply a sign of great development and progression in Thunderbolt’s music. I don’t know if it’s due to the line up, which recorded “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” and especially the addition of Necrosodom, who’s written half of this record together with Paimon… and you know, Necrosodom is a killer dude, who’s been blessed by the devil with ability to create some killer, furious metal – proven in such bands as Anima Damnata and Deus Mortem. Anyway, “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” does sound a level above the earlier albums. The production is way better, more professional if I can say so, as it is cleaner, but remains aggressive and harsh at the same time. The whole performance of the band is so tight, so precise, especially when Thunderbolt plays these furiously fast songs… and damn, most of this album is fast he! Is just feels like it’s not that sort of totally underground, primitive, cold black metal anymore, but it’s a new quality and also something more original, with its own style, what only makes the whole listen of “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” more enjoyable.
One of the greatest strengths of “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” is how powerful this album is. It really is a total blast, a real fuckin punch in the face. This music erupts with energy and its intensity will wake even the dead. As I already mentioned a great part of the record is fast and I mean FAST! The band is excellent at what they do; killer, sharp riffs, furious vocals of Paimon and fast, precise drumming of Stormblast. Damn, it just couldn’t be any better in my opinion. The album is quite technical for black metal, in a way that there’re fairly few tempo changes within every song, plus the arrangements are not so simple and basic anymore… just listen to the guitars, the drums… And unlike bands such as Marduk or Setherial, which at some point sounded all the same and with no diversity, Thunderbolt offers a mixture of different parts. So, it is not just a sonic attack, but there’s plenty of room for slower fragments, some, which even hold more harmonic riffs here and there. And some even have keyboards (like “May the Dead Rise and Smell the Incense”, one part in “Chaos Reigns over Megiddo” and so on and on)… But this instrument plays more a background role, luckily, so it is nothing like orchestral black metal or whatever, but just simple tones, which are playing a second role to the wall of guitars, to fill the gap and underline the atmosphere of Thunderbolt music. There are even two purely acoustic, instrumental songs, on each side of the vinyl, so they are moments of calmness and time, when you can capture a breath before another unstoppable attack of uncontrolled, furiously fast black metal will erupt and cause some devastation. Finally there are even these slower songs like “Impious Bewitchments of Aberration” and “Ashes to Ashes… Death to All” (OK, this is half slow, half fuckin fast track! hehe), which are insanely possessing and it is almost impossible to resist to their riffs, their atmosphere and everything else. At some point I even dare to say that some fragments of “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder” are almost catchy or at least memorable, so they possess you and will stay in your mind for long!
All in all I must say that I am highly impressed by “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder”. It’s been ten years since the release of this excellent album and it still makes a huge impact, being one of the strongest black metal releases in the history of Polish extreme music. It’s an absolute must to own, if you ask me and damn… Do I need to write anything else? No, it’s enough. Join the ritual then and sharpen your knives. At the same time I do must admit that the album seems to be criminally underrated and I feel like not many black metal maniacs know the band, remember it and this album (especially from outside of Poland!), which is a shame. You have no idea what you’re missing.
Standout tracks: “Inhuman Ritual Massmurder”, “Ashes to Ashes… Death to All”, “Impious Bewitchments of Aberration”, “Warmageddon (Genocide Cult)”

Final rate: 90/100

Hazael - When the Sun Is Dead

HAZAEL - When the Sun Is Dead (BARON - MC 1996)
Let’s go back in time, to the early 90’s… I must say that in the years 1991-93 I was hugely impressed by some Polish death metal bands. OK, I probably still am hehe, but back then these Polish cassettes were cheaper than imported ones, so I tried to get almost every tape from such Carnage Records. And loves all those demos and albums from Ghost, Betrayer, Violent Dirge, Vader, Hazael, Armagedon, Hate, etc. Hazael with “Clairvoyant” and “Thor” really became one of my real favourites. But the common opinion is that the band has finished with “Thor” and that after this album, when they got signed to Century Media, they just lost it and didn’t have anything interesting anymore to offer. Well, I suppose it is all a matter of everyone’s taste, but I would not agree with this theory fully. Sure, the best what Hazael had to offer was already on “Clairvoyant” and “Thor”, but the follow up, mini album titled “When the Sun Is Dead” is still damn good. And definitely it is not unworthy, in my opinion. And definitely it is way better than “The Kiss and Other Movements”.
I already mentioned that Hazael has changed after the “Thor” album. And yes, they rally softened their sound. The way Hazael developed and changed since the “Thor” album reminds me actually the progression, which you could notice in some Scandinavian bands; such as Cemetery and the way they changed between “An Evil Shade of Grey” and “Godless Beauty” albums. Or how some Finnish bands were changing, like Amorphis, Convulse… Changed into softer, more melodic and way less brutal and less death metal sound.
And the same can be said about Hazael. Luckily, there are still some traces of the past style of Hazael present on “When the Sun Is Dead”. So, it is still a music slightly influenced by the classic Swedish death metal and this is why I think this EP is still worthy to be listened to. Most importantly I think “When the Sun Is Dead” contains a re-recorded / re-arranged version of the song titled “Wyrd”, which originally was on “Thor”. I am not sure for the reasons of re-recording of this track, but damn… it is truly fantastic tune and I love it. Both versions – from “Thor” and from “When the Sun Is Dead” – are excellent, both are totally infectious and memorable, with this brilliant main melodic theme, which sticks in the listener’s mind for good… Great arrangements, great ideas and just incredibly good song. Also the following track “In-Tro-Out” is an instant classic, again with a killer melodic theme and some very good riffs and arrangements. Sure, the vocals of Tomasz Dobrzeniecki may not be the aggressive growls anymore – and that is another similarity to the bands I mentioned above, like Cemetary and Convulse, who swapped the death metal growl for more understandable and less brutal vocals… But I can honestly say that I am not so bothered about that, as it still sounds pretty good, at least on most of the tracks from “When the Sun Is Dead” (I think I can say that only some vocal arrangements in “My Blood Is…” are bad).
So, these two are my favourite songs. But also such “Pride-a-Morphosis” and “Behind My Mask” are cool… On the other hand I really don’t like “My Blood Is…”. Partly for the vocals, what I mentioned already. But this song has just uninteresting riffs and really doesn’t bring anything what I would enjoy. It is close to the Swedish band called Furbowl, I think, but nowhere as good, really. Luckily the very last song, “Revenge Desire” is great again, one of the best on the EP and it’s kind of melodic stuff, in the vein of “Godless Beauty”.
So, the change in the sound of Hazael did happen. The band didn’t progress in good direction, in my opinion, I definitely like their “Clairvoyant” demo and “Thor” CD more than the last recordings, but “When the Sun Is Dead” is still worthy and interesting, in my opinion. This EP has some moments of pure genius, some totally memorable and thrilling parts… but let’s be honest, there are also some less exciting fragments. In the end though I think that the fans of earlier Hazael recordings should still like it. I do.
Standout tracks: “Wyrd”, “In-Tro-Naut”, “Revenge Desire”

Final rate: 70/100

Monday, 16 June 2014

Macabra / Father Befouled - Split EP

MACABRA / FATHER BEFOULED - Split EP (Chalice of Blood Angel Productions - 7"EP 2013)
This 7”vinyl split was something what I wanted to get for quite a while now and it wasn’t so easy, especially as the vinyl is limited to barely 300 copies. Finally though I found one and didn’t even think twice, just bought it immediately! Here is a 7” split between Macabra and Father Befouled, released by Chalice of Blood Angel Productions in 2012. And I don’t hide the fact that I wanted this piece of bone white wax mainly because of Father Befouled, who are such an awesome band! And Macabra is more like something additional for me, but it is always cool also to find out new bands, so here was a chance for me, because I have never heard their music before.
And with Macabra I want to start. Well, the band – formed by Mark Riddick – surprised me quite much, with their eerie death metal. “Sacerdote Perverso” is brutal and heavy; more so, here and there it’s fast but mainly just slow and doomy with some almost mournful melodies… And immediately it creates this atmosphere of obscurity and horror. Damn, it is really cool. Macabra uses some extras to enhance the sound, with some choral vocals, keyboards, church bells, etc, even the Spanish lyrics make it sound unique. So, really everything here is just damn nice and if you’re a maniac of doomy, obscure, sinister death metal, then I bet this band will intrigue you immediately. It did me!
And as for Father Befouled, the first and most important thing, which we must say here is that their song “Profane Grace of the Trinity” was the first recording ever they did with Antichristus, to whom this EP is dedicated (ex drummer, who committed suicide in 2009). The song itself is quite typical for Father Befouled, which means I love it! Hehe! It has the obscure atmosphere of other recordings of Father Befouled, it is again mainly based on slow pace, mixed with some faster parts, what all together sounds like truly monumental, dense, crushing wall of sound. And I don’t even have to remind you about the disturbing, kind of sacrilegious, obscure atmosphere it evokes… All in all, Father Befouled is just killer.

Final rate: 80/100

Archives of the Dead part XIII: Acheron - Promo 1992

Archives of the Dead part XIII: Acheron - Promo 1992
Line up: Simon Dower (vocals), Tim Aldridge (guitars), Justin Warnes (bass), David Abbott (guitars), Craig Bailey (drums)
I am sure that everyone is familiar with the US death / black metal cult called Acheron. But I wonder how many of you know about an Australian Acheron? Not many, I suppose. But if I mention Abramelin, then some may have a better clue, as Abramelin released two decent albums back in the 90’s. Acheron is more or less a predecessor to Abramelin; they were spawned under this name back in 1988 and released a demo and 7”EP, finally they also recorded this Promo 1992 and then changed the name to Abramelin and released another demo. It is obvious that the American Acheron, who at the time already had „Rites of the Black Mass” released, forced this change of the moniker. Let’s be honest though – neither Abramelin and Acheron have ever got a huge fame. In my opinion they were just one of many decent, but relatively mediocre bands. And this demo proves me right, really.
Yes, it is solid and decent slab of classic death metal but nothing more, nothing less. Very typical music, very typical arrangements, harsh, not really impressive production… I guess there are too many of these “typical” and “good, but mediocre” things, which I can say about this Promo. Surprisingly though this recording was saved from perishing and I even enjoy listening to it now, over 20 years after its recording. I’m not blown away, but an enjoyment is there. I guess that the biggest problem with this demo is that the riffing is sometimes just dull and unimpressive, so… hmm, almost boring sometimes and it lacks that spark and powerful touch, which every death metal recording should have. But after some listens I can say that the whole “Promo 1992” is not so bad… a typical relict of the old days, which nowadays sounds archaic, but nice. Among all four songs especially “Final Biopsy” caught my attention, for its truly awesome slow, heavy, chunky opening theme, which later turns into some nice brutal, sometimes also fast death metal monster. “Human Abattoir” has also some really nice moments there, it is filled with brutality and thick, massive riffing.
All songs, which were recorded under the name Acheron has recently been exhumed and together with the entire Abramelin catalogue have been released on compilation CD/LP “Transgressing the Afterlife”, in case you wanted to check what was this “Promo 1992” and other Acheron recordings like. More so, two of the songs from this “Promo 1992” has later been re-recorded already under the Abramelin name on “Transgression from Acheron” EP and “Human Abattoir” was even on their debut self titled debut album from 1995. 
Final rate: 65/100

Archives of the Dead part XII: Abyssals - Demo 1994

Archives of the Dead part XII: Abyssals - Demo 1994
Line up: François Dauvergne (drums), Michel Dumas (guitars), Eric (vocals, bass)
Recorded and mixed by Didier Boyat and Abyssals in June 1994 at the AGLCR studio in Bourg-en-Bresse, France.
Here is a band, which I totally recommend and which is worth being exhumed from the old, perished coffin. And it’s a band, which before I honestly had not a great knowledge about, as they only did just this one and only demo recording, which was done back in 1994… and that was the first and only sign of existence of French Abyssals! A small research helped me to find out that the roots of Abyssals go back to the mid 80’s, when band Mutilator was formed / later known also as Mutilated. This group has released some more demos, before changing the name in 1993 for Abyssals. More so, I managed to contact the guy from all these bands, Michel Dumas. Nowadays he plays in new band, The Seven Gates. He told me that the whole Abyssals material contains riffs and bits from the Mutilated days, like for example the song “Evil Scriptures” was already written when the band was still called Mutilated. Anyway, I definitely must find out some more about the whole history, I also need to get a compilation LP of Mutilated titled “In Memoriam”, which was released in 2013! Why? I feel truly impressed by this Abyssals demo and would love to get to know more about this mysterious act. Yes! This demo is one of those amazing jewels from the old days, which are so unknown and almost forgotten, but which I’m crushed by and it doesn’t matter if the band is so unknown and anonymous or that they never were signed by a label and achieved anything spectacular. For me the music counts and in case of such bands as Abyssals and their 1994 demo, I can only speak in excitement for this music was KILLER!
When listening to Abyssals, everyone will have the right to think of one killer legendary band, which must have influenced those French maniacs in extreme way – Morbid Angel! Yes, and I obviously mean Morbid’s early recordings – demos and first two albums. Anyway, it doesn’t matter to me if Abyssals sounded so extremely unoriginal, almost copied some of the Morbid Angel’s characteristics. Damn, even the production of this demo is very alike. What matters to me is how awesome and killer this demo is, how awesome it sounds, how lethal it is. Aaarrrggghhhh! I just love those riffs, that dark, evil atmosphere, amazing drumming, killer riffs, sick solos and vicious vocals. It is “Altars of Madness” and “Abominations of Desolation” once again! For me such “Altars…” is the BEST death metal EVER, so if a small band like Abyssals managed to record a demo back in 1994, which is so infected by it and more so, quality wise it is so brilliant, I have nothing more to desire. Maybe if it only had more songs, as there are just three anthems of death! But such tracks as “Evil Scriptures” and “Scarified” are the essence of such evil, utterly devastating Morbid Angel-esque death metal. Let me write this again – Abyssals did excellent job here; these riffs are so powerful, great solos, vocals... Very well arranged and composed death metal! How come then something so superb has never been taken anywhere further, I mean why Abyssals has never released an album? Nowadays if we get a band which plays in this style of music – like one of my favourites, Coffin Texts – then we are all dying in excitement and they get killer reviews around. But it seems like maybe back in the mid 90’s no one was as impressed by it, strangely. Because really Abyssals was not just another mediocre band, in my opinion.
Yeah, Abyssals along with such Purulence, Arius and Beyond Fear belong to my greatest discoveries of the recent months, when speaking of the ancient demos of little known bands from the old days. So, totally recommended stuff! Listen to their awesome music! And I am in search for the Mutilated demo compilation now! Arrrghhhh!
Final rate: 90/100