Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ataraxy - The Festival / The Tomb

ATARAXY - The Festival / The Tomb (ME SACO UN OJO - 7"EP 2016)
I really like what’s going on in Spanish death metal scene nowadays, where some bands really prove to be worthy and are better than anything what this country has spawned in the 90’s. My two favourites are Graveyard and Ataraxy. Both have proven strongly that there’re no better bands in their country. But I was getting little bit worried that we hear nothing from Ataraxy since the release of their fantastic debut LP “Revelations of the Ethereal”. I do hope they’re working on new record and that it will be released soon. Meanwhile though we get this 7”EP “The Festival / The Tomb”. It contains two songs that were recorded during the “Revelations…” session, but were not featured on the actual album. I know what you may think now… Two leftovers, so it means they were not good enough to be on the full length. Well, I have to say that it doesn’t feel like it at all. When I listen to both songs I feel exactly the same thrill which I do during the listening of “Revelations of the Ethereal”. Both “The Festival” and “The Tomb” are great quality death metal songs, which should be also on the album. And I think the only reason why they’re not there is that the album would be just too long. Anyway, it’s great that Me Saco Un Ojo released this seven inch, it’s killer addition to my Ataraxy collection and occasion to listen to two new songs from this killer band.
I believe that Ataraxy music was becoming more and more original and worthy, getting more quality with each new recording. Of course I still like their very “Sweden meats Autopsy” sounding demo “Rotten Shit”, but what the band did on “Revelations of the Ethereal” is so much better. And these two “outtakes” from the session sound incredibly good. I love that dark, eerie atmosphere of the music, I truly like the production. And the riffage, with great combination of slow and faster parts is insanely good. For me this is perfect death metal, my most preferred style within this genre. And Ataraxy knows how to play it, compose and arrange it to make it sound better than 99% of other death metal bands around. I especially love “The Festival”, with its great slow parts, creepy melodies, keyboards that give it more obscure feeling and sudden outbursts of faster death metal that are going to break necks of every headbanger. Honestly though “The Tomb” is also amazing, it’s tad heavier, more brutal and vicious – especially the opening theme here gives me a goose bumps every time I hear it.
So, outtakes or not, these two songs are killer and it’s such a good feeling to listen to Ataraxy again. They’re one of my favourite bands for sure, so I hope they’ll finally come up with another album. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend this EP. Get it before it’s too late.

Final rate: 90/100

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Gravebomb - Rot In Putrid Filth

GRAVEBOMB - Rot In Putrid Filth (RAW SKULL Rekordz - CD 2017)
Raw Skull Rekordz is still a young label, but I think they already have some killer releases behind them and even more are announced for 2017. Watch out for them, I believe there are going to be some splendid CDs coming. Most of the bands, which Raw Skull releases are young and yet very little known, some with their debut recordings only. Just as Gravebomb from Sweden, who just released their first CD “Rot In Putrid Filth”. Maybe their name is a bit ridiculous, but the music sounds fantastic and if you dig old school Swedish death metal then you will like it a lot. Obviously you shouldn’t expect that “Rot In Putrid Filth” will be a groundbreaking or genre defining album, it’s actually very typical for this sort of music and it doesn’t surprise the listener with anything what you have not heard before. But the strength of bands like Gravebomb lies in fantastic songwriting, ability of coming up with plenty of killer riffs, amazing melodies and that basically everything has been done in perfect, top notch way. You know, it’s not enough to plug in the Boss HM-2 pedal and play some chunky, heavy riffs along memorable melodies. To be good, you need more than that and I believe that Gravebomb has that something.
As a fan of Swedish death metal I can say that “Rot In Putrid Filth” ticks all the right boxes, there’s everything I love about such style of music and more so, Gravebomb does not sound tired or unnatural, they have this passion and youngsters’ enthusiasm, what only gives better and better results. Their music is powerful, filled with rotten, dark energy, it blasts like crazy and at the same time, along all this aggression, comes catchiness. This album is almost easy to listen to and I personally was into it seconds after the music began. And what an opener “Parasite Spawn” is. This is what I call perfect Swedish death metal song – it begins with blasting stuff, later it can be melodic and doomy, but it all fits together perfectly and the listening is very pleasant. But that’s only the beginning, the whole “Rot In Putrid Filth” contains eleven songs, so there’s plenty more to come. I’ve been playing this album so many times and enjoyed every bit of it. Gravebomb may be just one of many such bands these days and to some of you they won’t be worth attention, since you already have Revel in Flesh, Entrails, Puteraeon and more… but I believe that real fans of this style will check them out also and more so, they will love this music. Because it’s damn awesome. I’m into it and I can only congratulate such a good debut album.
Standout tracks: “Parasite Spawn”, “Animal Hunger”, “Morbid Machine”, “Prime Directive”

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 10 February 2017

Sepulchral Curse - At the Onset of Extinction

SEPULCHRAL CURSE - At the Onset of Extinction (LYCANTHROPIC CHANTS - MC 2017)
I’ve been playing both previous Lycanthropic Chants releases lately and I have to say that I really like the stuff, which this small label has unleashed so far (and which were Morte and God Disease tapes). Sepulchral Curse cassette titled “At the Onset of Extinction” is next release from Lycanthropic Chants and another one, which I truly enjoyed. I have to admit that this EP impressed me, because not only its quality is higher than your average newcoming death metal band would usually bring, but also ‘cos the music is different to the typical Demigod or Demilich copycats, even if certainly some parts of the traditional Finnish as well as Swedish sound can be spotted here. I don’t want to say that Sepulchral Curse sounds unique nor that it is something extraordinary and spectacular. It’s solid stuff, which just sounds a bit different to most of these one dimensional sounding bands around.
Their style is deeply seeded in the traditional death metal, but the way they incorporate melodies or screamed vocals take their music sometimes even into the black metal territory. It’s a pleasant mixture of death and melodic black metal with some hints of doom then. It includes many impressive riffs and arrangements, most noticeable in the opening song “Envisioned in Scars” (best song for me). I personally like, when Sepulchral Curse speeds up, all these fragments with blasting drums and truly uncompromising riffage are crushing! But on the other hand the slowest song from all, which is the final gigantic anthem “Disrupting Lights of Extinction” also stands out with great harmonies and sheer doom heaviness. So yeah, diversity is definitely a positive aspect of “At the Onset of Extinction” and all these four songs are very interesting and enjoyable.
I suppose the only thing, which I don’t really like about “At the Onset of Extinction” are the mentioned screamed vocals. I never like this sort of vocals, when mixed into heavy death metal growls, it doesn’t work for me and rather annoys me than makes positive impression. But I can live with it. Sepulchral Curse brought us a good release and we should keep our eyes open for their next recordings.
Standout track: “Envisioned in Scars”

Final rate: 70/100

Suffocation / Fleshcrawl - Festering Thoughts from a Grave

SUFFOCATION / FLESHCRAWL - Festering Thoughts from a Grave (RAW SKULL Rekordz CD 2016)
Demo compilation of Fleshcrawl is definitely something what death metal maniacs should welcome with open arms. This is such a killer band, I think they never recorded a bad album and ever since they debuted with “Lost in a Grave” EP in 1991 they’ve been delivering only fantastic stuff. This compilation is quite special, because it’s includes also stuff, which was recorded in pre-Fleshcrawl band, when they were called Suffocation. So, we have “Mummified Thoughts” demo from 1990 and “Festering Flesh” from 1991. I never had a chance to hear either of these two demos before, so it’s a great pleasure to have them on CD in good quality and to be able to finally listen to them.
Starting the feast with “Mummified Thoughts” then, I was really surprised to find out that Suffocation in their early days were more thrash metal band than death metal. Do not expect to hear anything even close stylistically, not me mention the quality, to Fleshcrawl’s debut album, because this demo is completely different. It’s savage, vicious and quite aggressive thrash metal, I guess they had equally European as well as American influences, with the vocals far from the guttural growl of death metal bands… I have to say that I quite like their raw production on this demo and the songs, even if are far from being very impressive – because it’s quite primitive and archaic sounding stuff – are decent. Sometimes I get annoyed with some of the vocal lines, but who cares, right? It’s 1990 demo! I think that such demos give a lot of fun to listener, when he hears them these days. You know, this demo was recorded by some kids 26 years ago, but this recording survived all this time and was rescued from oblivion, which is very cool thing I must say.
Second Suffocation demo “Festering Flesh” demo shows a good improvement, basically everything on this demo sounds different and better. Not only Alex Pretzer changed his vocals for the low, deep growl, but the music of Suffocation became heavier, more brutal and the weak thrash metal is replaced with very harsh and raw sounding death metal. It’s not bad at all and the demo sounds quite solid, although the sound could have been a bit better. And I don’t necessarily mean the production value per se, but rather the fact that sometimes, like in “Phrenetic Tendencies” or even more in “Infected Subconscious” the sound is waving, so it feels like they’ve taken the music from an old and pretty used copy of cassette. It does disturb a bit and surely this aspect could have been improved, but I am far from feeling disappointed. It just feels great to hear “Festering Flesh”, solid demo and good announcement of what was yet to come from these guys.
The final part of “Festering Thoughts from a Grave” is the classic “Lost In a Grave” EP, released already under the name Fleshcrawl. Again you will notice much improvement in this band’s music, I like this EP a lot, especially the title song sounds killer, so definitely this is my favourite part of this compilation. I don’t know if there’s much point in describing this EP, because I believe that old maniacs know it well, but let me just say that Fleshcrawl sounds fuckin savage on “Lost In a Grave” and it’s just great piece of death metal. It’s one of those classic releases, which you want to come back to as often as possible. It’s the real beginning of this fantastic German band, who through all these years became one of my favourite band of all time. So, even if the demos are not necessarily the best thing I ever listened to, it’s great to have “Festering Thoughts from a Grave” in my collection, as it is an important part of the history of Fleshcrawl.

Final rate: 75/100

Wombbath / Departed Souls - Embrace the Cold...

WOMBBATH / DEPARTED SOULS - Embrace the Cold... (RAW SKULL Rekordz CD 2016)
I love splits. And I can only be happy that this idea of joining two or more bands on one CD/LP/MC/whatever didn’t die and more and more such stuff is released. I’ve enjoyed many splits that came out in 2016 and here’s yet another one, which brought my attention. Two great bands, both with some new crushing songs – can there be anything better?
First comes Wombbath. Yes, this is the same band, which had a good album “Internal Caustic Torments” released in 1993 and then catastrophic miniCD “Lavatory” in 1994. They reformed in 2014 and since then their catalogue has been increased with second full length album and few splits, one of which is “Embracing the Cold...”. There are two songs from Wombbath here and on both Wombbath offers old school death metal. What else could it be, right?! The band is Swedish and obviously they sound Swedish, but with that harsher, more aggressive and vicious style. The first of their songs is pretty typical, but solid, while the second “Punisher of Broken Oaths” is truly killer, in my opinion. I love how fast and aggressive, how nasty it is, I love the riffs and everything about it, so this song is a winner for me. The production could have been a bit better, for example the song they have on split with Revel in Flesh sounds better… but it’s not a major complain from me, I like it. Good, worthy comeback.
Departed Souls debuted with fantastic “Barbaric Tortures” in 2015 and I come back to this release (which I have on CD and 10”MLP) often, because I just love it. Here we have three songs, but one of them is a live recording, so I’m not gonna discuss this one. In other two the band sounds very old school and they also take a lot of influence from the Swedish scene, but not only, as I personally prefer to simply call them an European sounding death metal band in general, without having a tag of copycat of one band only. Departed Souls have killer riffs, very good vocalist, their music shred with no mercy and damn, I just like it a lot! “Fear... Pin Head” – which is sort of new version of a song from “Barbaric Tortures” - is better of the two songs, it’s dark, ferocious, it’s fast and just brilliant. But “Cold Deep Waters” is also fantastic and believe me, if you dig this sort of death metal then you will like this band a lot. For me Departed Souls is one of the best bands from this sort of playing in Europe at the moment, I would love to see them releasing a full length album, sadly it’s postponed due to their drummer’s serious illness. I wish him all the best and hope it all will end up good and they’ll attack us with the killer music again soon.
Killer, recommended split.
Standout tracks: “Fear…”, “Cold Deep Waters”, “Punisher of Broken Oaths”

Final rate: 85/100

Cryptic Realms - Enraptured by Horror

CRYPTIC REALMS - Enraptured by Horror (DEATH IN PIECES - CD 2016)
After two great recordings – which were “Eve of Fatality” demo and a fantastic split with Astigarraga Thrower – the time finally came for a debut album from international death metal monsters Cryptic Realms. I liked these previous releases a lot, so I was definitely looking forward to hear “Enraptured by Horror” as well. It came out through Death in Pieces Records and I was playing it many times in past couple of days. I can already say that my general impression is that it’s good album, I do not feel disappointed with it… but I feel also that it could have been slightly better in some aspects. No, not some… There’s only one thing, which I really think the band should have improved and it’s the production. I don’t like it so much, to be honest, I think that “Enraptured by Horror” sounds too artificial, especially the drums sound weak, but also guitar tone is not what I usually like. I think that these songs would sound way better if the production was more powerful, more organic, natural and everything sounded also more brutal, more vicious. The effect would be much more impressive then… I also think that the drumming in faster parts is a bit sloppy, but…
But “Enraptured by Horror” is what it is… and I don’t want to say that it’s a bad album, because it definitely is not. You can get used to this sound after a while and more importantly, the songwriting is great and Cryptic Realms came up again with bunch of killer tracks, what definitely saves everything from disaster. Yes, I like these songs a lot, they’re killer. I like this sort of simplistic death metal, which Cryptic Realms play. It’s so deeply rooted in the traditional, old school style that it could have easily been composed 25 years ago. They have a strong influence from Death, Obituary, Massacre… and from newer bands also, because I think that “Enraptured by Horror” sounds a lot like Gruesome or Kam Lee’s bands Bone Gnawer and The Grotesquery. Even the vocals of Uriel sound a lot like Kam’s characteristic harsh growl. Which is cool, of course. Cryptic Realms came up with many great riffs, their music has this creepy, dark atmosphere, which I like, but it all sounds heavy and insanely memorable at the same time. Songs like “Sinister Force Descends”, “In Mortal Distress”, “Begging to Be Dead” or the title song are just great and they do not sound boring or tired, they do not sound monotonous or unauthentic. It’s very solid and worth of recommendation, so even if at the first listen you won’t feel it, maybe due to the production, I bet that after a while this album will speak to you more and more.
Standout tracks: “Sinister Force Descends”, “In Mortal Distress”, “Begging to Be Dead”

Final rate: 70/100

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Witchrist / Antediluvian - split EP

WITCHRIST / ANTEDILUVIAN Split 7"EP (Martyrdoom Productions EP 2015)
This split 7” blew my head off and was a delight for my ears, because I learned from it that Witchrist is a band, which I really need to find out more about. So far I was familiar with this New Zealand legion only by their name, I knew that they have some connections with other killer acts like Diocletian and Heresiarch, but I was never given an opportunity to hear their music. Until this morning when I started to listen to this new purchase, which is a split 7” with Witchrist / Antediluvian. Damn, Witchrist sounds fantastic. On one hand it seems like their music may be very similar to bands like Grave Miasma, Irkallian Oracle, Teitanblood, Adversarial or Diocletian. All these bands have a lot in common, when speaking of this truly dense, brutal, insanely obscure and sepulchral death / black metal. But even if it may seem like they all walk around similar patterns, each of these bands has something unique to offer… So does Witchrist. I personally just can’t resist to their music, to this bulldozing sound and utterly dark, bleak, sometimes almost ritualistic aura. I’m like “WOW! It sounds so fuckin amazing”, and believe me, Witchrist does such a good job with “The Burning Reprieve” that the same day I ordered a copy of “The Grand Tormentor” vinyl and I am sure that it is only a beginning. I will need more from this awesome band.
Antediluvian is a band, which on the other hand I am very well familiar with. I have some vinyl from them in my collection (but I still miss some shit, like “λόγος”, so I am yet to complete my Antediluvian set). “Shifting Transcendental: Autonomous Gate to the Other Side” obviously fits to Witchrist side perfectly when speaking of the musical styles of both bands, but the music of Antediluvian is even more brutal and obscure, it’s faster and truly chaotic. It may not be my favourite song from them, but I have yet not heard anything bad from this Canadian band also, they do not disappoint and fuck, when I play this shit and listen to it on headphones, in total darkness, I almost feel like closed in a coffin, so claustrophobic is their sound.
Very recommendable split seven inch then. Two great bands, very nice presentation of this release… it’s a must to have in my opinion.

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 3 February 2017

Crawl - Worship Death

CRAWL - Worship Death (Inhuman Assault Productions MC 2016)
Hope you’re not tired with all this old school death metal flood and you will happily want to find out about yet another band that plays this best music of all. Here’s Swedish Crawl with their second cassette titled “Worship Death”. It was also released as 7”EP (out on Bloodsoaked Records), but I managed to grab it on tape (limited to 50 copies only), but that’s fine, at least for now, because I will definitely want a vinyl also. I have to say that I have a lot of sympathy for bands like Crawl. Their music may not be the most original or standout in the crowd of similar death metal bands… It is nothing exceptional, but I like it a lot anyway and this is just pure pleasure to listen to such stuff.
Three songs are on “Worship Death” and stylistically it’s filthy, nasty old school death metal with that necessary, but typical Swedish production (which cannot be mistaken with anything else! And I love it) and a strong punkish vibe, what reminds me of bands like Bombs of Hades or The Dead Goats. Crawl has really a lot of potential, they came up with great songs, I like their riffs and killer feeling, which this music has. Slower parts are especially great, they’re heavy and vicious, but honestly I think that the whole music of this band is just damn good Occasionally they come up with some melodies and “Drenched” is definitely my favourite song here, just because it has the best melodic piece from the whole EP… Arrrgghhhh… I cannot be objective when I listen to this sort of music, I am never too critical towards such bands, a lot of them are instant winners for me… and yes, Crawl is great also. I want to hear more from them, I need to find their previous cassette also and I do hope they’ll come up with an album shortly also. Recommended for the maniacs of this shitty rotten music!!!! Hahah!

Final rate: 80/100

God Dethroned - The Grand Grimoire

GOD DETHRONED - The Grand Grimoire (METAL BLADE - LP 1997)
In 1993, after the debut album “The Christhunt” was released, God Dethroned split up. But Henri Sattler, who in the meantime played in doom metal act Lords of the Stone, decided to reform his old death metal band in 1996, bringing completely new line with him. Second album “The Grand Grimoire” came out in 1997 under Metal Blade Records and surely it was a worthy and noticeable comeback, very successful, both when speaking of the music and when speaking of the promotion and feedback the band received.
Honestly, I will always consider “The Christhunt” as my favourite God Dethroned album, because it’s the closest to what I like in death metal and musically it fits my taste perfectly, with that harsh sounding, dark, satanic death metal that the band recorded for the debut. “The Grand Grimoire”, and all other albums, which God Dethroned recorded after the reunion, are quite different stylistically, I dare to say that they don’t have much in common with the debut record, but that doesn’t mean it’s something bad. First of all, the music became much more melodic, with plenty of memorable harmonies spread through the whole “The Grand Grimoire”, which is why the album is so easily listenable and catchy as well. I think I can describe these melodies as melancholic, especially in song like “Under the Silver Moon”. What worked so well on “The Grand Grimoire” is that God Dethroned managed to combine these melodies with great aggressive death metal, with good variation between fast and slower parts and very nice, energetic sound. I like that they have a good balance between all these aspects and more so, I also like that the production is not over polished and it still has that sharp, dirty tone on guitars and vocals are sounding so vicious (although Sattler’s harsh, screaming voice is very different to his growls on the debut album, where he used a lot or reverb and sounded much more inhuman). The music seems to be also way better played, it is completely derived of that chaotic and messy character of the debut album, with not a slightest sign of death metal primitiveness. Good technical skills, some great guitar leads… yeah, definitely it’s a good stuff from start to finish.
The songwriting on “The Grand Grimoire” is very good. There are many songs that will stay in your head and are really standing out. The vicious and very fuckin angry and aggressive “The Art of Immolation” is my favourite, I love its savage sound and fast parts. The title song brings some of the best riffs of the whole album, with great mixture of melodic and nasty riffage and is so memorable that you’ll want to play it again and again. Third track which I wanna mention is “Under the Silver Moon” – it stands out not only due to this killer mixture of brilliant fast death metal and melodic, almost doomy parts… but also with some of the most blasphemous lyrics from the whole album. “Copulating Maria!!!!!!!”, yeah! “Into a Dark Millenium” is another fine song, so bloody malicious and aggressive! And I suppose the only song, which I don’t like so much is the final track “Fire”, which is obviously a cover of Arthur Brown. But it’s just a cover, so it doesn’t even matter much. Rest of the album is good enough to make me forget about it anyway.
Standout tracks: “The Art of Immolation”, “The Grand Grimoire”, “Under the Silver Moon”

Final rate: 80/100

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Corpus Rottus - Nihilism

CORPUS ROTTUS - Nihilism (LOST APPARITIONS Records - CD 2012)
Corpus Rottus was a solid, but shortly lived US brutal death metal band, which maybe never got a lot of appreciation, but their only album, 1991’s “Rituals of Silence”, was a good effort. It’s one of those cool, but rather lesser known releases, which had no chance to become as popular as “Effigy of Forgotten” or “The Dead Shall Inherit” but does it mean it’s not worthy of support? I like it! Corpus Rottus split up around 1992-93 I think, but before calling it quits they did one more recording, which is a demo titled “Nihilism”. It was not released, until Outlaw Recordings came up with its vinyl version (which must be quite rare, as I’ve never seen a copy of it anywhere) and later Lost Apparitions Records did a CD version of it in 2012. It’s great that this demo was saved from being forgotten, because it’s very solid portion of death metal, that really sounds great and brutal as fuck.
This demo contains eight songs, but three of them you can scratch right away, since they’re like few seconds short only, so they’re not so interesting and there’s nothing special about them. The rest of the songs is also quite short, their time is never longer that three minutes, but it’s enough to get hit hard with this heavy and massive sounding shit. There are some great riffs, the pace is usually fast, so there’s no time wasted and it feels like the band attacks right from the beginning, with no aim to take prisoners, but to crush and destroy. For me this demo sounds exactly as I like brutal death metal to be – not overly technical, but also not annoying with some shitty pigsty vocals or unreadable riffs. This is pure death metal, with fierce, brutal sound, sick vocals and sometimes with quite groovy feeling. The song writing is impressive, production is quite good also I have to say, so I am sure that if this demo was released back in 1992, then it would get a lot of good responses. Life’s a bitch though, Corpus Rottus is no more… but I am glad that the demo was rescued from complete oblivion.
Standout tracks: “Beyond the Obsequium”, “Funeral Homes and Morgues”

Final rate: 80/100

Monday, 30 January 2017

Mercyless - Coloured Funeral

MERCYLESS - Coloured Funeral (CENTURY MEDIA - CD 1993)
Objectively speaking I have to admit that even though French death metal scene never belonged to my favourites, they did have some exceptional and memorable bands. Some of you may still remember Aggressor, Supuration, Loudblast, Crusher… Personally my two beloved bands were Massacra and Mercyless. Oh man, these acts really did record some fantastic albums and ever since the early 90’s they belonged to my favourite European death metal bands. Mercyless is one of those bands, whose music turned into something horrible on third and fourth albums, I truly think they recorded an utter rubbish. But their killer debut “Abject Offerings” and even better follower “Coloured Funeral” are classic death metal records. If you don’t know them, then you just must catch up and grab them, believe me they’re fantastic.
“Coloured Funeral” is close to perfection. This quite forgotten and underrated album brings some of the best technical and slightly progressive, but still harsh sounding death metal songs of all time. I love everything about this full length, starting with killer and exceptional songwriting, filled with AMAZING riffage, many great melodies and just perfectly, technically played performance of every Mercyless member. And finishing with top notch production, which is on that harsh death metal edge, but is yet clean and powerful, so when this album is played loud then everything really turns into ruin and shit.
The album may require few spins, before you’ll fully be able to grasp it. But that’s only due to the enormous number of details, riffs and not so easy or typical song structures. Luckily a lot of the fragments are quite catchy and memorable, what helps and makes the whole experience not only easier, but also more pleasant. I like diversity of this music and how Mercyless combines death metal aggression and viciousness with progressive style of playing. The effect is truly amazing. And even if we can compare this band and “Coloured Funeral” to bands like Pestilence, Death, Burial (Holland), Morgoth or Gorguts, then they still have enough creativity and identity to have their own, unique style and sound. And this is why I consider Mercyless to be such a unique and exceptional act.
As always I mention some standout tracks below, but to be honest, I feel like I could name every song from “Coloured Funeral”, because this is complete and from start to finish a very good album, which has no fillers at all. And as I said, if you dig a bit progressive, but vicious and aggressive old school death metal, then do not waste time and buy first two Mercyless albums. They’re classics! Oh, Mercyless reformed and after reunion they recorded another two pure death metal albums, which I also loved. At the moment this is my favourite death metal from France.
Standout tracks: “Forgotten Fragments”, “Travel Through a Strange Emotion”, “Serenades... (into Your Limbs)”, “Naked Forms”

Final rate: 90/100

Morgion - God of Death & Disease

MORGION - God of Death & Disease (DARK DESCENT - CD 2012)
Most of the doom / death metal fans should know Morgion, because this band released three very good albums, which all got quite good response from the press and listeners. But Morgion split up several years ago and the last album they did (“Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth”) was released in 2004, so nowadays they may be less and less remembered and surely many younger fans will have no idea who Morgion were. Why not start introducing yourself to them then with this very nice compilation CD, which Dark Descent Records released few years back? It’s titled “God of Death & Disease” and generally it contains all the material, which Morgion recorded before the release of debut album “Among Majestic Ruin” in 1997. So we have here “Rabid Decay” (1991, demo), rehearsal recordings from 1992 and “Travesty” EP from 1993. I didn’t know any of these materials in their original versions, so such CDs are a great opportunity to listen to some new, unknown shit.
I have to admit that “Rabid Decay” demo was not able to impress me and with all honesty, I can only say that it’s pretty mediocre and almost forgettable effort. Not only it suffers from rather weak production (especially in song “Encased in Glass”, where it all sounds like dubbed from old, used cassette), but the songwriting is also far from spectacular. The song I just mentioned, “Encased in Glass”, is particularly boring and dull. “Rabid Decay” generally sounds more like typical death metal demo, with just few doomy fragments here and there, like in “Intro / Drowning in Sorrow”, which is a fine opening instrumental track. Such “In the Process” and “Gothic Decorum” also sounds like decent primeval death metal demo songs, I have to say that I like some of these riffs, arrangements and Jeremy R. Peto vocals. This demo isn’t bad, but it’s just far from being sensational or whatever. Mind that stylistically it differs hugely from the albums, which Morgion did few years later.
Next up “God of Death & Disease” features an unreleased (I think so) material, which was recorded during rehearsal in 1992. Well, I have to say that if it really is a rehearsal recording, then it sounds unbelievably good. The sound is even better than on “Rabid Decay” demo, it’s very brutal and heavy, so I like it a lot! Anyway, these four songs follow the style from the demo, but definitely these songs are better. The band still sounds more like a typical rough death metal, with doomy parts present rather spontaneously, so the music is quite brutal and sometimes even fast. Songs like “Chasm” or “What Dwells upon Man” are fantastic and I dare to say that it’s one of my favourite Morgion recordings. The first one is more like straight up death metal, while the latter contains many doomy parts, what makes it sound unbelievably heavy and gloomy. Oh boy, I really like it a lot. It’s very well executed, I can yet again find here many killer riffs and arrangements and generally even if it seems like this material wasn’t officially released back in the 90’s, I can consider it as one of the better US death metal demos from 1992.
Finally a rare “Travesty” 7”EP completes “God of Death & Disease” in excellent way. Only two, but very good songs are here, which yet again show a step forward for the band. It’s awesome death / doom metal, very brutal, harsh, but with some great melodic sections like in “Wither the Storm”, what sometimes give Morgion a style, which slightly resembles me the Swedish death metal and bands like Eternal Darkness. “Wither the Storm” is better of these two songs but all in all “Travesty” sounds like a killer EP and it’s a shame that I never had a chance to grab the original version of it. Generally though I have to say that Morgion was great band, their early recordings may sound different to the full length albums, but this compilation should be a nice item for collection and if you dig all those old death metal demos then you should give it a listen.
Final rate: 75/100

Thursday, 26 January 2017

God Dethroned - The Christhunt

GOD DETHRONED - The Christhunt (COLD BLOOD Industries - LP 1992)
Some time ago a friend of mine started a discussion on Facebook about the best Dutch death metal albums of all time. It was something quite interesting to read, because I’ve never hidden a fact that Dutch death metal scene belongs to my favourites and I truly worship many bands from there. A lot of obvious titles were mentioned in that discussion, like Pestilence, Gorefest, Sinister, Asphyx or Altar albums... but I was surprised that I was first to name God Dethroned's "The Christhunt" LP. For me personally it's top five of best death metal records from Holland and I truly love this album. I like some later God Dethroned albums also, like "Ravenous" or "The Grand Grimoire", but none of them sounds so vicious and brutal as the debut. And this is why I love "The Christhunt" so much – it is the sheer aggression, viciousness and evil, dark atmosphere of this album what suits me well. The future records may be better recorded, be better technically, but also more melodic and have more memorable songs, but they miss that relentless and obscure harsh aspect of old school death metal, which I worship and which "The Christhunt" has in its every fuckin fragment.
So, I do return do this record often, even though I only have it on picture LP - and I am yet again surprised that no one had yet decided to put it on vinyl in more proper way. I do hope it will change one day... until then it's "The Christhunt" on picture LP, which is OK, as the sound is not so bad and besides, this album simply fuckin kills.
I don’t necessarily like to make comparisons, but if I was going to compare "The Christhunt" to other bands then it would be a bit of early Sinister, Altar, Deicide, Vital Remains… all these maniacally evil, malicious and harsh sounding type of bands, which recorded some splendid satanic death metal albums in the early 90’s. A lot of "The Christhunt" sounds fast, aggressive and intense. They make many transitions and changes of the pace in every song, so it all sounds nicely diverse, even if sometimes it can be a bit predictable or even naïve, as the band tend to repeat some schemes quite often, especially in the fast parts. But despite that, I like it, because God Dethroned had some killer riffs here, I love the blasphemous aura of this music and Henri Sattler’s vocals (with a lot of reverb on them) sound morbid and evil as hell! Occasionally God Dethroned slows down and actually they do have also a bit of Asphyx gloominess in these slow parts, like in “Infernal Sights of a Bloody Dawn (Morbid Rites)” for example, which definitely belongs to my favourite tracks on "The Christhunt". Check that doomy riff and mournful guitar lead – they could easily been taken from “The Rack”.
Several truly killer songs go through the album. “Infernal Sights of a Bloody Dawn (Morbid Rites)”, “Christ Carnage”, insanely malignant “Necromagnon” or “Unholdin of Hewe”. I’m not saying that "The Christhunt" is the most brilliant death metal album of all time, but it sounds solid, it had everything that you should love about satanic death metal of the old days. Mind though that if you’re fan of later God Dethroned, especially albums like “The Lair of the White Worm” or “The Toxic Touch”, then this debut may sound way too rough and primitive for you and it may not necessarily be your cup of piss. But try it, who knows, maybe you’ll like it anyway.
Standout tracks: “Infernal Sights of a Bloody Dawn (Morbid Rites)”, “Christ Carnage”, “Necromagnon”, “Unholdin of Hewe”.

Final rate: 85/100

Goreaphobia - Vile Beast of Abomination

GOREAPHOBIA - Vile Beast of Abomination (NECROHARMONIC - CD 2007)
"Vile Beast of Abomination" is really fine compilation of songs of one of these legendary, but relatively underrated US death metal bands from the old era. Goreaphobia, formed in 1988, was relatively short lived act, as they split up in 1994 and through these few years they only released a demo and 7"EP - both of which you can find on this CD. But even with such small discography, they managed to become a recognizable and cult band. Goreaphobia history obviously didn't end in 1994 and later the band was reformed twice - first in 1999 and then again in 2004, this time for longer (they even recorded two albums, before splitting up yet again... and for good, as it looks like).
"Vile Beast of Abomination" starts with some newer songs of Goreaphobia, which I didn't know before, as they're 2004 unreleased material, with four truly fuckin crushing songs of vicious and obscure death metal. Oh man, this shit sounds incredibly good, with songs like "Wraith Reaper" or "Creator Chaos" it's just beastly stuff. Great riffage, with lots of fast, but also great slower parts and great approach towards classic death metal. "Wraith Reaper" really stands out here, with its excellent playing. If there's anything to moan, then maybe I don't like those screamed vocals so much and would prefer to hear more typical growl... but it's a minor complain and generally I feel like Goreaphobia really came up with great material here. A bit different to their older recordings, but damn good for sure.
Later we can listen to old songs from classic releases "Omen of Masochism" (1991 EP) and "Morbidious Pathology" (1990 demo). The band sounded brutal, very dark and harsh and definitely they did have a lot in common with other representatives of old school brutal death metal like Incantation, Morpheus Descends, Rottrevore, Brutality, Decrepit, Immolation and so on. I love this old US death metal scene, with many killer bands - some of which became more popular and did many albums and some, which only did some demos and never become recognized (like Body Bag, Timeghoul, Ossuary, Arioch, Contagion and so on). Goreaphobia sounded better and more savage than many of them and these two old recordings are a fine proof for it. The production on the demo may not be the best, but even that has its killer charm and fits perfectly to this rotten, brutal death metal style. But I prefer the EP - for me it's the best thing, which Goreaphobia has ever recorded.
Musically "Vile Beast of Abomination" is a killer compilation, but also the whole presentation of this CD, released by Necroharmonic Productions, is truly spotless. Take a look on this fat booklet, filled with millions of archive photographs, but also one of the most indepth and detailed liner notes I've ever seen. This is what I call a complete and perfect work!
Standout tracks: "Omen of Masochism", "Wraith Reaper"

final rate: 90/100

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Sear Bliss - Grand Destiny

SEAR BLISS - Grand Destiny (RED STREAM - CD 2002)
Sear Bliss is surely one of my favourite black metal bands when speaking of countries like Poland, Hungary of Czech Republic. They did so many fantastic albums and more so, they managed to create their own style, to become extraordinary and exceptional band. “Grand Destiny” is their third full length album. And I have to say that I was a bit worried before I heard it for the first time back in 2002. And that’s because their previous two albums were a rollercoaster for me. I absolutely loved “Phantoms”, with great combination of raw black metal and atmospheric, monumental parts, strongly enhanced by the brass section. Every song on this album turned out to be superb. But later “The Haunting” came and that album on the other hand disappointed me. I felt like the music became a bit too soft, I didn’t like how the keyboards sounded there and even the trumpets did not help. Generally I think that the songs on Sear Bliss second full length were just not that good and that’s because this album is fairly mediocre and forgettable. So, this is why I was a bit worried before “Grand Destiny” arrived. But damn, this album turned out to be just awesome and actually it belongs to Sear Bliss’ best releases. So, it’s a great return to form.
Basically Sear Bliss kept all the most valuable ingredients for their music, which I liked so much on the debut album. And luckily they avoided sounding a bit too soft like they did on “The Haunting”. So, it’s a perfectly balanced atmospheric black metal, with some exceptional monumental parts, with a lot of additional brass section and great harsh, but clean and powerful sound. Damn, the way this albums starts, with “The World Beyond”, is something you would not expect, because this is fast, very raw sounding, cold black metal that you would not necessarily expect to hear from Sear Bliss, especially after “The Haunting” album. But damn, what a stunning opener, what a vicious and aggressive opening song! It can only promise that “Grand Destiny” will be a great improvement. And it is. Next song is “Death in Torment” and again I am impressed! These first riffs in it, with great addition of trumpet and keyboard sound just fantastic and I love how the atmosphere is being created in the whole song, finished with a nice acoustic theme. And then what? Another fast motherfucker with  some exceptional parts – this is “Ars Idiolatriae”. I can easily say that these three songs are enough to give an opinion that “Grand Destiny” is not only an album that exceeds everything Sear Bliss did on the previous full length, but even their fantastic debut can have sometimes difficulties to match that quality.
More so, it seems like “Grand Destiny” belongs to the harshest sounding Sear Bliss albums. The production on it is quite clear, but with that raw, black metal touch what makes it sound so damn good, a bit like Gehenna did on “Malice” maybe. As always Sear Bliss astonishes, for having a great ability to compose interesting and incredibly well arranged songs. Every part of “Grand Destiny”, from start to finish, is excellent and so the whole album has no downs, no fillers, no weak points. It is very damn close to perfection and for sure it is one of the best black metal albums from the early 00’s.
Standout tracks: “The World Beyond”, “Ars Idiolatriae”, “Death in Torment”, “God Man’

Final rate: 90/100

Hooded Menace - Gloom Immemorial

HOODED MENACE - Gloom Immemorial (DOOMENTIA - CD 2014)
What I love about this compilation is that it’s not one of these boring best off type of stuff, but they gathered all songs that were published on rare vinyl releases that Hooded Menace putted out during last ten years. And it’s a lot of it, believe me haha! So, in case you had no chance to buy any of these 7”EPs or splits or whatever, or maybe you’re not a vinyl freak and have no turntable, this compilation is a chance for you to hear some more splendid stuff from these masters of horror. I personally have maybe just couple of these releases, so for me “Gloom Immemorial” is also a necessary and so looked after compilation. Of course I would love to have the original vinyl singles and splits, but damn, I know how hard to find them and expensive they are these days. So, this CD is OK for me!
All songs are presented in chronological order, so… The feast begins with two songs, which also ended up on the debut album of Hooded Menace “Fulfill the Curse”. But the EP “The Eyeless Horde” from 2007 had them recorded in different versions, year before the album was recorded. They don’t differ much from the album version, but damn, I would love to have this EP so fuckin much haha! These are also two among my favourite tracks on this compilation. I love how Hooded Menace combines heavy, doomy riffage with that gloomy, horror atmosphere and some melody. And of course their doom is strongly infected with old school death metal, so this is also why the music of Hooded Menace speaks to me so well.
Later there’s some stuff, which I personally wasn’t familiar with, as I never had a chance to hear original EPs, such as split with Anima Morte, splits with Coffins (another one, which I REALLY need to grab!), Asphyx and Ilsa. It was extremely fantastic to discover such songs as “A Decay of Mind and Flesh” (which is actually Anima Morte cover), as I love the melodies in this track and it works so surprisingly well to hear that it’s an instrumental song!!! I can only give it the best feedback possible, because I love it for its memorable harmonies and great atmosphere (need to check Anima Morte then also haha!). Or “The Haunted Ossuary” from the split with Coffins, which is so, so damn heavy and nasty song, truly monstrous stuff!
I do own such releases as “Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze” and “A View from the Rope”, so I knew these songs, but it was also a pleasure to hear them again, on CD. All in all, I have to say that “Gloom Immemorial” is a fantastic compilation of rare stuff from one of the best doom / death metal bands ever. And so what that I missed most of these releases in original formats. Sure, I would love to have them all, as playing such music in vinyl format is simply pure magic and it always give you a special feeling. But if cannot have what you want, I am happy with what substitute. And believe me, “Gloom Immemorial” is a standout / not boring compilation that all fans of doom / death should have. I’m also happy that the band and the label took it all seriously and came up with fantastic booklet, which shows you each original release in details – with lyrics, original artwork and band photograph from that era. It cannot be done better, so for me this is just near perfection type of release with 75 minutes of horror soundtrack.
Standout tracks: “Fulfill the Curse”, “The Eyeless Horde”, “The Haunted Ossuary”, “A Decay of Mind and Flesh”

Final rate: 90/100

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Kingdom - Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment

KINGDOM - Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2016)
It’s been a while since the release of “Morbid Priest of Supreme Blasphemy” album and “Temple of Death” cassette EP. But Kingdom is back, once again in very good form and their newest album “Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment” is truly a savage and vicious recording, which should appeal to all death and black metal maniacs. I do mean it; because this album is a fantastic combination of both styles, played in raw, morbid way of old school. Obviously it’s mainly based in the death metal sound, this is the fundament of Kingdom music, but the black metal influence can be spotted here also, alike to bands like Embrace of Thorns, Bestial Raids, Teitanblood and sometimes even going back in time to Darkthrone’s “A Blaze In the Northern Sky”.
Anyway, “Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment” sounds fantastic. When I started to listen to this album, I immediately knew that it’s gonna rip the fuckin guts out and that it’s a fine crushing stuff. The production is so bloody good here, as it’s harsh and heavy, but at the same time it’s bloody powerful, so every sound is like a massive punch in the face and the music has this great obscure feeling, which correspondents fantastically with the overwhelming heaviness and brutality of Kingdom music. The sound is also quite organic, it all sounds just properly and far from artificial, plastic productions of many nowadays bands, even those, which also call their music “old school”.
The music is as extreme as old school metal can be, and it delivers some fantastic riffs and arrangements, with every song having something special to offer. They may sound a bit like some old Morbid Angel, Acheron and Incantation, like in fantastic “Sepulcral Psalms”, “Abyss of Torment” or “Whispering the Incantation of Eternal Fire”, when the tempo is slowed down. But when the band speeds up, then a real hell breaks loose and damn, it’s more like Throneum meets Angel Corpse, Vital Remains and BM bands I mentioned earlier. Such beasts as “Monolith of Death” will strike fast and kill with no mercy! I love this intensity, heaviness, morbid feeling and gloominess of Kingdom music, I truly think they have some great riffs and the vocals of LWN are also worth mentioning. Among all the songs, “Kaplica ducha zgniłego” definitely stands out, as with the Polish lyrics this song sounds even more blasphemous and obscure than anything else here. And the riffing in this song, as well as the vocal parts are insanely good.
Standout tracks: “Abyss of Torment”, “Kaplica ducha zgniłego”, “Sepulcral Psalms”, “Whispering the Incantation of Eternal Fire”

Final rate: 80/100

Death - Leprosy

DEATH - Leprosy (COMBAT Records - LP 1988)
Let’s visit the past again. Here’s a classic Death album “Leprosy”. Oh, I think it’s the first death metal album, which I’ve ever heard and it was 25-26 years ago or something like that. You can imagine how many times have I listened it since then. Hundreds? I know every riffs, every vocals line – this album has no secrets before me anymore. This is a reason why I don’t play it so often these days and I prefer to put something new instead (like Gruesome or Skeletal Remains), because I don’t feel this excitement when I hear “Leprosy” anymore. This album will surely remain a total classic for me and I will always consider it as one of the best death metal records of all time. But not as Death’s finest album, because I like “Spiritual Healing” more. This one is their second best IMO.
Anyway, it’s been one year since the band has brutally mutilated every metalhead with “Scream Bloody Gore” and “Leprosy” was released in 1988. There’s been quite significant line up change – only Chuck Schuldiner remained on the altar of gore. He was joined by his old Mantas pal Rick Rozz on guitar, as well some other Massacre members – Bill Andrews on drums and Terry Butler on bass. But Butler joined the band shortly after the recording session of “Leprosy”, so he’s here just on the photos (Chuck recorded all bass lines). Interestingly, the line up here is almost the same, as on the three years later recorded “From Beyond”, but that’s another story.
“Leprosy” definitely shows a great progression and improvement with songwriting and technical aspects. You can hear that the songs are better composed, with lots of brilliant arrangements, more detailed guitar work, drums parts and everything else. Primitive gory death metal was moved along to Autopsy with Reifert, while Death took a huge step forward. Both Schuldiner and Rozz showed some great guitar work here, came up great heavy riffs, fantastic leads or quite a lot of melody for such an aggressive death metal album. They’ve been both equally responsible for composing “Leprosy”, most of the songs were written by two of them and only two tracks (two BEST songs on the album – “Leprosy” and “Pull the Plug”) were composed solely by Chuck and one song (“Primitive Ways”, which is also my least fave track here) was written only by Rick Rozz. More mature, much more developed and though through – this is what you’ll think, if you compare “Leprosy” to “Scream Bloody Gore”. Every song bursts with great brutal energy, but surprisingly a lot of these riffs are quite catchy and memorable, which is something that will always differ Death from other, more brutal US death metal acts. Obviously it’s not the ultra-progressive and innovatory Death songs yet, so do not expect “Human” from it. This album is closer to such “Pleasure to Kill” for instance than to “Symbolic” and “Human”. It’s aggressive, often relatively fast and still rather harsh sounding, but the production is very strong aspect of this album.
I have two really favourite songs here – first one is the title track, which may even be my favourite Death song ever. Oh, I love the riffs in it, that heaviness, harshness, melodies and the vicious atmosphere of “Leprosy”. This song has also quite memorable parts, it basically is one of those songs, where every riff is nailing you to the ground and crushing immediately. And the second fave piece is “Pull the Plug”, of course! Wow, this is such a killer, I’m sure that everyone knows this track, as it’s probably one of Death’s most popular anthems. This song is relatively easy, when speaking of its structure, arrangements and everything. But it’s so bloody effective, slower parts in it are absolutely fantastic, guitar leads are perfect and yet again the music is very memorable, you will remember its chorus or some of these killer riffs forever.
But there are more exceptional songs, like “Left to Die”, “Choke on It” and “Open Casket”, so the whole 40 minutes always go fast. It’s not a perfect record, it’s not the best death metal album (although an important one in my personal ranking and my death metal history). It has its faults, especially the drums, as I don’t really like the monotonous drumming of Andrews, who especially in the faster parts seem to be playing the same patterns over and over again. But his playing seems to fit that old school death metal character of “Leprosy”, so it is not a major complain. More so, the snare drum sound is almost annoying sometimes, but I can live with that. All in all, it’s been almost 30 years since “Leprosy” was recorded and this album didn’t get old at all, I still listen to it with smile on my face and with a great pleasure. And I am sure that in another 20 years it will make the same impression, because this is a timeless album.
Standout tracks: “Leprosy”, “Pull the Plug”, “Open Casket”, “Left to Die”

Final rate: 90/100

Friday, 13 January 2017

Bloodbath - Nightmare Made Flesh

BLOODBATH - Nightmare Made Flesh (CENTURY MEDIA - CD 2004)
Let me write now few words on one of the best death metal albums of the recent years. You may feel a bit skeptical towards bands / side projects like Bloodbath and don’t take them so seriously. It’s your choice, but personally I don’t care about calling them “all star band” or whatever, I also don’t care if it’s their main band or not. The music is what counts and surely Bloodbath released some seriously killer albums. “Nightmare Made Flesh” is my favourite CD from them and honestly, for me this stuff is close to perfection. There’s a bunch of great songs attacking mercilessly one after another, with killer riffage, super tight performance, neat production and really vicious sounding vocals of Peter Tägtgren, who joined Bloodbath for this album, replacing Mikael Akerfeldt. There’s absolutely nothing what I would not like about “Nightmare Made Flesh”, yes!
Bloodbath did not reinvent the wheel with “Nightmare Made Flesh”. They did not come up with anything super sophisticated. What I like about it though is how killer the songwriting here is, as the band came up with plenty of super fuckin awesome riffs that are often catchy, but aggressive, nasty and crushing as hell. And they always force you to bang the head like crazy, as the sound of this album is truly powerful and vicious. Bloodbath composed great songs, filled with fantastic arrangements, and along brutal stuff you’ll find here also some nice harmonies, guitar leads and so on. In result, every song sounds special. Maybe some of you will miss a bit of that primitive and harsh nature of underground death metal, but let’s just say that with such spectacular albums it doesn’t really matter. For me it all sounds like Bloodbath tried to add something original to the old death metal skeletons and damn, this is why “Nightmare Made Flesh” is above 99% of old school death metal albums. They did succeeded and nailed it perfectly.
Great musicianship, killer riffs, fantastic arrangements… yes, it’s all here. But also great diversity, so 45 minutes and 12 songs go fast and never bore. There’s super fast, nasty and aggressive stuff, there’re more catchy and groovy mid paced riffs that have such a great feeling and you will bang your skull when listening to such “Eaten”, I am sure. And there’re plenty of melodic songs as well. The number of songs that will stay in your head and cause devastation in it is great – you have such monstrous pieces like “Cancer of the Soul, “Eaten” (best Bloodbath song ever with killer gory lyrics!), “The Ascension”, “Soul Evisceration”, “Outnumbering the Day”. These are my favourites, but how can I not recommend also such “Brave New Hell” or any other song on this album, really??
The best thing to do is to play it loud. You’ll feel its enormous energy and onslaught. Just be careful not to hurt your neck too much. Damn good album!
Standout tracks: “Cancer of the Soul, “Eaten”, “The Ascension”, “Soul Evisceration”, “Outnumbering the Day”

Final rate: 90/100