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

Persecutor - Bestial Overkill

PERSECUTOR - Bestial Overkill (TIME BEFORE TIME - CD 2011)
Polish metal scene is filled with killer bands and loads of great death or black metal stuff. We have also fantastic acts from the thrashing black / death metal style, with names like Witchmaster, Bestiality, Warfist, Ragehammer, Bloodthirst, Empheris, Excidium… And there’s also Persecutor. I don’t think that this band is widely known, even here in Poland I doubt that their name is known to everyone. They’re well hidden in the underground obscurity. But the stuff they’ve done so far, like this album and killer split CD with Poisoned are recordings, which I really wanna recommend. They were all released on small labels, so don’t expect anything fancy, glossy and mainstream. Time Before Time Records (label, which belonged to Tom H, from the mighty Throneum), which released Persecutor’s only album “Bestial Overkill” does not exist anymore for instance. Anyway, if you’ll ever have a chance to pick this album up or any other Persecutor’s releases, do so! They’re great, I think, especially this album. If you like evil sounding, raw, vulgar and aggressive pure metal, then you will love it for sure!
“Bestial Overkill” contains nine violent, relentless and filthy slabs of thrash / black metal. Persecutor’s influences may range from Bathory and old Slayer through Impaled Nazarene, Merciless and newer acts like Aura Noir, Nocturnal Breed and even Angel Corpse. And Motorhead of corpse! All songs are quite fast and straight forward, this music really sounds nasty and vicious, aggressive but also powerful, because the production is really good and energetic. It’s total devastation and vileness. “Bestial Overkill” never turns its ugly head for soft or melodic playing. It’s pure metal, you know?! And along this relentlessness that this music brings, it’s great that it has also some memorable parts, there’s always sort of chorus, where you will hear a catchy lyrical phrases and riffs, so the song will surely stick in your head and you will start to scream these lyrics next time you’ll play “Bestial Overkill”! It’s nothing complex or sophisticated, nothing progressive or ultra fancy. And that’s the way I like it. I don’t need super polished, plastic commercial metal like the one, which big labels offer. Much more I prefer such albums like “Bestial Overkill” and definitely it always gives me a good kick, what matters the most.
Standout tracks: “Possessed by Speed”, “Battlerape”, “Darkened Call”

Final rate: 80/100

Warfist - Metal to the Bone

WARFIST - Metal to the Bone (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2016)
If the previous Godz ov War Productions release that I listened to – and which was Misanthropic Rage’s “Gates No Longer Shut” – was rather a challenge and the music required attention for not being an easy listen, then this album is so straight forward and traditional in its sound and style that I got into it immediately. I liked it right from the first song. Here’s new Warfist album, “Metal to the Bone”! Yes! Although I have not yet had a chance to hear their previous CD, which is 2014’s “The Devil Lives in Grünberg”, I do know well and like the songs, which were released on splits called “Beasts of Necrothrash” and “Satanic & Violent Metal Aggression”. That’s why I pretty much knew what to expect from Warfist and I knew that I will like it. And Warfist does not disappoint, more so, I think they got so much better since the mentioned splits that I am truly impressed.
Actually 2016 was a year, where hardly anything can match the brilliance of another Polish album – Ragehammer’s amazing debut “The Hammer Doctrine”. But I suppose that Warfist is not that far behind and they also get a high place in my personal ranking. Oh man, I really like their aggressive and violent style of… can I just call it thrash metal? But the thing is Warfist sounds so much more brutal, darker and evil than all those wimpy US thrash bands, so I always hesitate to call it just thrash. Fuck that though. Let’s just imagine that these guys have combined some of the best ingredients from old records like “Show No Mercy”, “Obsessed by Cruelty”, “Endless Pain”, “The Return”, “Into the Abyss” (Poison!!!!!), “The Laws of Scourge”… and few more of course, as there are so many killer albums. I would even add Metallica, because the riffs in “Breed of War” in the opening theme do remind me “Disposable Heroes”. But the thing is Warfist plays all this shit in more intense and extreme way, they add more hellish sulphur and evilness to it, sometimes even spicing everything with a small black metal touch (and obviously Darkthrone can also be mentioned among their influences, as well as such Aura Noir). I won’t be even able to pick up the best songs, as all of them sound great and crush viciously. But I do wanna mention the title track, as it sounds like a real metal anthem, with an idea very similar to Desaster’s “Metallized Blood”. This song sounds fantastic. Also “Playing God” stands out a bit, but maybe because it reminds me something, but I just cannot put a name which other band and song it resembles. Who cares. The entire album sounds sweet and bad ass, so yeah – I loved it!
Definitely the title “Metal to the Bone” describes and fits this album perfectly and I just have nothing more to add. It is pure and 100% traditional metal, it is deeply rooted in the classics and yet it has something great to offer and does not taste like microwaved old food. I like the riffs, I like the vocals, I like how easily listenable it is and damn, I also like the production and this fantastic artwork. Both Godz ov War and Warfist did great job and  I sincerely recommend you “Metal to the Bone”. Grab a copy if you call yourself metalhead. Remember, it isn’t for pussies haha!
Standout track: “Metal to the Bone”

Final rate: 85/100

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Misanthropic Rage - Gates No Longer Shut

MISANTHROPIC RAGE - Gates No Longer Shut (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2016)
Godz ov War Productions has just prepared their three brand new releases. All together they make a nice set of Polish extreme metal that is worthy of you attention, believe me. I’ll leave Kingdom and Warfist reviews for later, but I can already say that they’re both really killer pieces of old school metal. Now I will write few words about Misanthropic Rage and their debut CD “Gates No Longer Shut”. This Polish band is new to me, I didn’t even know their name before this CD arrived, but I have to say that they’re quite promising beast and surely it’s yet another solid and worthy band on the death / black metal scene in Poland. I did enjoy “Gates No Longer Shut”, although the album required some more attention and many listens, before I got into it. It is far from being my 2016’s favourite release, but it’s a good debut, so please, check this band out.
“Gates No Longer Shut” is not an easy album. Misanthropic Rage music on one hand brings a killer dose of ferocious, brutal and dark sounding death / black metal which I liked a lot. There are definitely many fragments on this album, which let me think that this band is seriously good and deserve attention. They can play fast, but also have many killer mid paced or slow, but aggressive and vicious, dark sounding sections that I liked a lot.
But Misanthropic Rage style is not limited just to the extreme side and the band also takes a lot of inspiration from more progressive metal styles. They glue them into the death / black metal formulas without paying attention to any rules, schemes or standards, but the result not always pleases me as a listener. I mean, maybe some ideas and arrangements sound allright and I do like them as well, but at the same time there are some other that are just not effective enough. Sometimes the way the band decided to shift the way of playing or mood was too abrupt or maybe even unwanted. Especially the way clean vocals have been used here, their tone and way of singing, is not something I would like personally. They can irritate, luckily though clean vocals never play the main role, so it’s not something what would totally ruin this music for me.
Sure, there’s a lot of interesting and various things going on, “Gates No Longer Shut” is far from being one dimensional and monotonous. If you like music, which is not typical and which would avoid standard schemes, then this may be something for you. And as such, the title of this album is very fitting, as it informs you that the music is not just the classic black / death metal patterns, but it’s open for something new and evolves into often unexpected hybrids. Sometimes, like in the title song, it’s not something I would like, other time, like in “I, the Redeemer” the result is more satisfactory. But you may think that Misanthropic Rage did not manage to convince me at all. You’re wrong. This album did grow on me. After first couple of listens, I was not into it at all. But after a while and more listens, it got better. I’m far from liking “Gates No Longer Shut” in its entirety, there are some fragments, which I do not like, but at least they’re just few. Definitely “Into the Crypt” and “Cross Hatred” are my favourite songs here.
Standout tracks: “Into the Crypt”, “Cross Hatred”

Final rate: 65/100

Death - Scream Bloody Gore

DEATH - Scream Bloody Gore (UNDER ONE FLAG LP 1987)
This is a timeless release. This is a fundamental death metal album. This is also the FIRST death metal album that was ever released (yes, I consider “Seven Churches” more a thrash metal, if any of these genre tags matter at all). And if there are albums that really – and I mean REALLY – deserve being called “classics” or “cult”, then “Scream Bloody Gore” is among them. These are undisputable facts. It may not be the best album of all time, it’s not even my favourite Death record (as I prefer “Leprosy” and “Spiritual Healing” way more), but it had an enormous influence on the entire scene and belongs to genre defining albums.
I can only imagine how strange it had to be to see these 20 years old kids recording such filth and singing about cunts, zombie rituals and other disgusting, repulsive things. But they did it! It was 1987 when two youngsters – Chuck Schuldiner and Chris Reifert – recorded “Scream Bloody Gore”. There was also a third band member, John Hand, but his place in history of extreme music is limited only to the photo on back of the vinyl, as he didn’t record even one part of bass or guitar. What an unlucky dude haha!
“Scream Bloody Gore” was released by Combat Records in 1987. Personally, I’ve heard it for the first time in 1991. It was actually quite funny, but I bought a cassette with “Spiritual Healing” cover, but the tape was mistaken with “Scream…”, so for some months I didn’t even realize that what I listen to is “Scream Bloody Gore” haha! One of the things, for which I love this record is the fantastic artwork. It’s superb and one of the most classic artworks in the metal history! Obviously the lyrics are something a lot of people moan about. They hate their primitive and vulgar nature, they hate this gory style and for them it’s just stupid, childish and non-sense crap. Well, who cares. “Revengeful corpses out to kill. Smell the stench, your guts will spill. Vomit for a mind, maggots for a cock. With his axe the corpse will chop…” Ha, what a nice stuff. Death metal is not a place for romantic poetry, so I don’t understand people moaning about brutal, gory lyrics. I actually prefer them over the philosophical or social topics, which you can find on some other Death albums.
Now the music. First I have to say that I love the production of “Scream Bloody Gore”. If we have to compare this record to “Seven Churches”, then Death’s debut kicks the shit out of Possessed, not only musically, but also due to much better, heavier, more aggressive and darker production. It had to be tricky to come up with a sound, which would be proper for such brutal music. But it had to be done, because this music would not work with a simple thrash metal production. It required something different and the band succeeded fully. And the songs are superb. This is Death and death metal in its infancy, so don’t expect that it sounds technical, clean and progressive. Do not expect that “Scream Bloody Gore” will have much in common with “Human” or “Symbolic”. If you’re a fan of the latter Death album, this debut may be difficult for you to get into, as it’s way more primitive, harsh and just nasty sounding death metal. It’s full of gore and horror, dark and almost macabre atmosphere. And for me personally it all sounds super fantastic. I love many of these songs and no matter how many times I’ve been listening to them, they just don’t get old and boring. I still get thrills when some of these riffs mutilate and cut deep and some of these songs belong to the most recognizable death metal tracks of all time. We have here such killers as “Zombie Ritual”, “Evil Dead”, “Sacrificial”, “Regurgitated Guts” or “Mutilation”. Some of them are very vicious and quite fast sounding, other may have slower riffage and even some harmonies, which will later become trademark for Schuldiner style of playing and Death. For example the opening melodies for “Zombie Ritual” and “Evil Dead” – they are so memorable and fantastic sounding!
Soooo… I don’t have to write that if you’re into this style of music, you just have to take a sip from the goblet of gore at least once. If you don’t like its taste, then you must be either poser or you’re simply out of your fuckin mind. It’s essential release and mandatory item for everyone’s collection. I have Under One Flag’s 1987 European version of “Scream Bloody Gore”. Obviously it is awesome to have this press, I have it since many years and will never get rid of it. There’s one thing though, which I hate about it. It doesn’t have two additional songs that appeared on other pressings of “Scream Bloody Gore”. “Beyond the Unholy Grave” and “Land of No Return” are also great songs (especially the first one), they should be here as well! So, in case your version of “Scream Bloody Gore” also doesn’t have these tracks, you just have to buy yourself one more version (CD or LP), which would include the entire tracklist. “Scream Bloody Gore” was reissued on vinyl in 2016 and this new remastered version has the complete album.
Standout tracks: “Zombie Ritual”, “Mutilation”, “Evil Dead”, “Regurgitated Guts”, “Sacrificial”

Final rate: 90/100

Friday, 30 December 2016

Furia - Płoń!

FURIA - Płoń! (PAGAN Records CD 2009)
Recently I gave a listen to Furia’s newest EP “Guido”, which Pagan Records released this year (2016). And I did not like it. The band has changed their style drastically, for me personally it all sounds just too weird, too soft and also totally boring for me, so I am not a fan of this new release at all. My most favourite releases from Furia are those early ones, starting with “I krzyk” demo through absolutely amazing “Martwa polska jesień” album and “Grudzień za grudniem”, their second full length. These are absolutely fantastic recordings and I truly like them a lot. Somewhere between them is another EP titled “Płoń!” (released on CD format in 2009) and it’s another truly awesome and exceptional release. There are three songs here and each is truly splendid, this is a style of Furia’s music, which I like the most – and which is very characteristic and original sounding black metal that you will not be able to find in any other band. It’s a stunning mixture of melancholy, eerie, dark aura, aggression, grimness and… and something what only Furia managed to capture in their sound and which is very hard to describe. This something lays in the Polish origin of the band – or maybe I should say in their Silesian origin, because Furia always underlines (also in their lyrics) their connection to Silesia region, with its poorness, grey colours, old buildings, coal mines, language, culture, etc. The lyrics are always something, what gives a special touch to their music, so if you take all these things together, then you will know why the music of Furia is so unique and exceptional. It’s no different with “Płoń!”. Three songs, which are here are perfectly reflecting the nature of this band.
Musically I have no doubt this can actually even be the best thing, which Furia has ever released. Each of these three songs is incredibly strong, I absolutely love the riffs, arrangements, all ideas, which Furia had for them. One of the most characteristic things about their style is how they can smoothly go from fast and aggressive black metal to quite, calm – even (shoegaze) post black metal kind of sounding - stuff and how they build the tension and atmosphere. It’s never typical sounding black metal and even if occasionally it can remind you such Taake or newer Enslaved, then it’s just a small comparison, because this is Furia. They do have their own idea for the music and are good enough to bring it in great style, composing stunning, memorable and intriguing songs. Even the production is something characteristic for this band. Maybe some of you will have troubles getting into it, some may not like clean vocals for example… I don’t care, I never had such problems and for me personally “Płoń!” sounds perfect. All three songs are excellent, I can listen to this EP many times and it will never bore me. Truly fantastic release and I hope that it will finally be released on vinyl as well.
Standout track: ALL

Final rate: 95/100

Bloodbath - Unblessing the Purity

BLOODBATH - Unblessing the Purity (PEACEVILLE - CD 2007)
If you still think of Bloodbath as a lousy side project of some Opeth and Katatonia members, then I think there’s something wrong with your head. This band has proved to be serious and through the years they managed to release some fantastic albums. And it’s music what matters, not who’s in the band and what is their priority. Personally I like “Nightmares Made Flesh” the most, it’s such a crushing slab of old school death metal filth. What distinguished this album from the other Bloodbath releases is that it featured Peter Tägtgren on vocals. Of course I also like “Resurrection Through Carnage” a lot, which on the other hand had Mikael Akerfeldt behind the mic. It’s also damn nasty and tasty album. With Tägtgren on vocals Bloodbath did only one album and right after he left, Akerfeldt returned to the band and “Unblessing the Purity” was recorded in 2007. And damn… I like his vocals a lot. It’s almost like the less he used growls in Opeth, the better he sounded in Bloodbath haha! His performance on this EP, as well as on the following “The Wacken Carnage” is really great, in my opinion, I like the sound of his growls and that the vocals are quite understandable, even if brutal and nasty.
I cannot say anything bad about the production of “Unblessing the Purity”. This EP sounds fantastic, it’s very powerful and crushing, but relatively clean … and every instrument is so damn strong. You will feel how this energy blows the speakers and forces you to skull-banging when “Blasting the Virginborn” blasts off with fantastic fast opening part. It truly is a neckbreaking song, but it may surprise you with slightly more progressive sounding mid-part, especially that fantastic guitar lead there.
If you know the previous albums, then you will surely notice that songs from this EP are slightly different. Still deeply placed in the old school death metal roots, but their structures, some ideas and arrangements are not necessarily taken from the plain and simple, straight forward death metal skeleton. “Weak Aside” will be another example for that… but I have to say that I do enjoy this diversity and more original touch to Bloodbath music. Especially when the music is so damn powerful and fast. When I listen to it, I feel like it’s Grave, but faster and with more diversity Grave would ever have. There are four songs here and each is just great, the quality is the same all the way through. Definitely it’s one of the best Bloodbath releases.
Standout track: “Blasting the Virginborn”

Final rate: 80/100

Nile - In Their Darkened Shrines

NILE - In Their Darkened Shrines (RELAPSE LP 2002)
I wasn’t first thinking about writing review of yet another Nile album, but that changed when I started listening to “In Their Darkened Shrines”, which is a third full length from this American death metal band. Two things came to me mind, after first few spins of this vinyl. First thing was that Nile is in my opinion the strongest and most important US death metal band ever since Morbid Angel has done their A-D albums. And my second thought was that “In Their Darkened Shrines” definitely belongs to my favourite Nile albums and it is as good – who knows, maybe in some aspects it’s even better – as “Amongst the Catacombs of Nephren-Ka”, which used to be my number one. So, I started writing few words on it.
It’s such a spectacular and damn well composed album that it’s hard to imagine it can get any better than this! It’s fantastic that the brutal and technical aspect of death metal, which became Nile’s trademark, on “In Their Darkened Shrines” became even denser and more ferocious and that they managed to increase the quality level again. Fast parts sounded even faster. It all sounds sooo brutal, but better written than before, with amazing dual work of Karl Sanders and (then new in the band) Dallas Toler-Wade. And the characteristic Nile’ish monumental, epic parts with orchestral passages are some of the best, which this band has ever recorded. There’s also more of them than ever before. It seems like Nile decided for “In Their Darkened Shrines” to be their most immense and epic album, with songs like “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”, “Sarcophagus”, “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead” or the truly spectacular quadrilogy of the title track. These songs alone make me think of the whole album as the best Nile effort, even better than almost perfect debut album.
Really, every song here is a beast. I love these fast and technical tracks, with amazing precise playing (fantastic drumming of Tony Laureano and killer guitar duel of Karl and Dallas) and such a powerful sound. They fuckin crush with no mercy and really blow the speakers out. I suppose “The Blessed Dead” is the best from them all, it’s such a great song. But also such “Kheftiu Asar Butchiu” leaves no listener careless. But as said, the main strength of this album lies in these epic songs. “Sarcophagus” is simply a masterpiece of epic, orchestral death metal. “Unas, Slayer of the Gods” is probably the best song Nile has ever written. This 12 minutes long beast has everything fans of this band love – there are thick, brutal parts, slow pieces, orchestral arranges and heavy stuff. And it’s been arranged and performed in the most spectacular and impressive way I’ve ever heard. And the title track, which is split on four parts, brings exactly the same feeling.
Yeah, I can speak only in super positive words about “In Their Darkened Shrines”. This is one of the best death metal albums ever written and I dare to say that Nile will never manage to surpass its excellence. Although I do hope I am wrong haha!
Standout tracks: “The Blessed Dead”, “Unas, Slayer of the Gods”, “Sarcophagus”, “I Whisper in the Ear of the Dead”

Final rate: 95/100

Friday, 16 December 2016

Empheris / Grotesk - Apocalyptic Radiation

EMPHERIS / GROTESK - Apocalyptic Radiation (Self released CD 2009)
I have in my CD collection already quite few releases of Polish band called Empheris and I have to say that I really like their music. Lately I managed to grab yet another title from their vast discography. This CD is actually quite rare, as it’s been limited to 100 copies only, so I didn’t even think twice and when I saw it’s for sale I putted an offer immediately. It’s a split CD with Grotesk titled “Apocalyptic Radiation”. And damn, it’s another really awesome stuff from Empheris and also a great discovery of Grotesk, who also turned out to be a solid band.
Empheris brings here two songs “The Taste of Defeat” and “Necronautic Raids”. If you’ve heard any other Empheris releases, like “Regain Heaven” or the splits with Warfist and Embrional, then you should know what can you expect from their music. It’s thrashing black metal – catchy and memorable as hell, vicious and aggressive, blasphemous and damn evil! I love their sharp riffs and great fierce vocals of Ad. I like how they sound and how they combine classic metal patterns from heavy and thrash metal into more black metal style. It’s  a bit like Nocturnal Breed, if you wanna a comparison. Anyway, these two tracks are great, especially “Necronautic Raids” and if you liked any other Empheris releases, then this part of the split will be a feast for you as well.
As for Grotesk (who were from Norway)… They do fit musically to Empheris perfectly, because their style of old school metal is very alike, although this time I would maybe compare them to Aura Noir, if that matters at all. They also use a lot of classic metal parts, have a strong old school feeling, but maybe the black metal influence is smaller. The vocals are more classic sounding, sometimes they sound like Aggressor or Apollyon, other time they’re like a bastard child of Cronos and Lemmy. All in all, another really damn awesome tracks and I liked their part of “Apocalyptic Radiation” as well. Such music is so easily to listen to, it’s so catchy and aggressive and it surely will force you to bang your skull! And drink beers! That’s exactly how the metal band should sound like. Great stuff indeed, so I’m very happy that I managed to grab a copy of this very limited CD!

Final rate: 80/100

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Tehace - Zymatic Disease of Human Believes

TEHACE - Zymatic Disease of Human Believes (Self released CDr 2001)
Tehace is not a band, whose name would be widely known in the wordlwide death metal underground. Although the band have been around for 16 years now and have several recordings unleashed, they have not yet managed to capture enough attention of people. Which is weird, because I think they came up with some good music and surely deserve a bit more support. So, maybe this short review will introduce you to Tehace and after reading it, you’ll grab their material. Personally I have two releases from this band and first of these two is called “Zymatic Disease of Human Believes”. I am not sure if my copy is legitimate, as I have this EP on a CDR with xeroxed booklet, but I cannot even remember where did I get it from and if I’ve ever seen any different copies of it, so… who knows. “Zymatic Disease of Human Believes” was also released as a split tape with Silent Confusion (by Apocalypse Productions, in 2001), by the way.
This EP brings us four songs, each separated with additional instrumental tracks / intros. The fifth proper song is legendary “Rapture”, originally written and performed by Morbid Angel. And this band is surely one of the main influences of Tehace, which you can spot here. I can also compare them to Divine Rapture, but especially to Scottish band called Mithras, as both bands have been using many intros, had quite similar vocals and their sound had also been quite alike. Definitely Tehace played some weird stuff here, their death metal is not necessarily so easy to get into, as it sometimes has quite complex riffs and structures… It’s almost progressive sometimes, but still brutal and usually fast as hell. And it’s not bad at all. I cannot say that “Zymatic Disease of Human Believes” sounds like my most preferred death metal, but I do like to listen to such stuff occasionally as well. You can probably hear that the band was still trying to get their style right, come up with something original. And maybe sometimes their songs were a bit messy, but definitely you can say that it sounds not bad at all. I do like it, so try them, give this band a listen and discover yet another solid band from the Polish death metal hell.
Standout track: “Who am I?”

Final rate: 70/100

Grin - A Scanner Darkly

GRIN - A Scanner Darkly (Self released demo CD 2016)
Damn, I’ve received this CD few months ago, but I completely forgot about it, so it was lying somewhere, waiting for a listen, but instead, it only got covered with dust. So, I do apologize the band for this delay. Grin is not a band, which I would know about before “A Scanner Darkly” arrived in the mail. The band was formed in 1996 already, released some demos back then, but later they split up and reformed in 2014. I have no idea what was Grin music like on the old recordings, but for “A Scanner Darkly” I will use the description from Metal Archives, which says “technical thrash / groove metal”, for lack of any better descriptions. I would also use progressive and a touch of death metal, as some death parts are here also and the music do has sometimes more progressive, sick sound to have even more diverse and untypical sound. Honestly, I don’t listen to such music often, so I dare not to make any comparisons of Grin to other bands, because I don’t know! Strapping Young Lad maybe??? Who knows? Meshuggah? Of course “Grin” was a title of Coroner LP, so maybe that can be another clue (but I never listened to Coroner, I never cared for this band, so… I don’t know!). Who cares. What counts is that “A Scanner Darkly” contains four tracks, but the music is not bad at all. There’s quite characteristic and specific riffage, the whole demo definitely has a lot of groove and I can only wish that the vocals were a bit better, as I don’t like their sound so much. They could have been more aggressive. Other than that, Grin came up with some good songs, interesting ideas and arrangements and it surely doesn’t hurt to give “A Scanner Darkly” a listen once a while. The music is easily listenable and quite memorable as well, it’s well played and recorded, so I did spend a good time when listening to it.

Final rate: 65/100

Profanatism - Hereticon

PROFANATISM - Hereticon (PUTRID CULT CD 2016)
“Hereticon” is a debut full album from Profanatism. I have to be honest, the previous recordings of this Polish black metal project were fine, I did enjoy them and if I cannot say that they were something exceptional I will say they were solid and interesting at least. Recently I’ve got this debut album and I have to say that this may be my least favourite recording from Profanatism and I did not like it so much. I actually had a hard time to get into its atmosphere and find anything what would really impress me and make me interested. It’s one of those albums, which you play, you try to like it, but at the same time you’re thinking that it’s mediocre, it’s also dull sometimes and you honestly want to change the music for something better. You simply know that this one will not work and the chemistry is not there.
The biggest problem with “Hereticon”, which I had, was that not only it sounds dull, but I was totally careless about the music. It’s not a typical straight forward black metal, it’s also not traditionally sounding black metal. The riffing here is quite weird, full of strange (dis)harmonies, I guess you can say that instead of playing proper riffs that would bring aggression and cold aura, Profanatism comes with something completely opposite and it’s hard to figure out what is their idea for the music. Weird harmonies, sick sounding parts… I have no idea how can I describe this stuff. The atmosphere is quite ritualistic, sure, it’s dark and grim, but from the strictly musical point of view “Hereticon” doesn’t do anything for me. I get irritated with all these dissonant riffs and lack of inconsistence… and on top of all, there are these insanely croaked and screamed vocals, whose arrangements are simply not so good. I can understand it was not easy to get them right if the music is so discordant and so difficult to listen to… but that just assures me that this time round Profanation ideas were not quite that good. I am not saying that “Hereticon” is utter bad or something, I am sure it will get some good reviews as well (it probably already did). But I have to be honest and say that I don’t like this album and I rather forced myself to pay it a reasonable number of times, instead of doing it with pleasure… and well, I know that this CD will just end up on the shelf, get covered with dust, as I doubt I will be back to it so soon.
No standout tracks here, although “Dance With the Serpents” caught my attention a bit, as it reminded me some parts of Emperor from “Prometheus” LP.

Final rate: 55/100

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Rotten Casket - Emerged from Beyond

ROTTEN CASKET - Emerged from Beyond (UNDERGROUND MOVEMENT - CD 2016)
Some weeks ago I was happy to get Rotten Casket’s demo tape “Consumed by Filth” (which was a nice gift from a good friend, cheers Mr. Rai-mondo haha). Damn, I did like this demo a lot and immediately putted this Dutch band on a list of some of the best old school Swedish sounding (but not of Swedish origin haha) bands these days. But it was pissing me off that I couldn’t find “Simply Rotten Death”, which is another demo Rotten Casket did in 2015. Underground Movement then came with help and released a compilation CD with both demos on it! Damn killer job! “Emerged from Beyond” is limited to 300 copies, but I managed to buy one, so I am happy yet again and very pleased to own a copy. Now I can play both Rotten Casket demos and enjoy this killer band even more.
From these two releases, I definitely like “Consumed by Filth” more. It’s such a fantastic demo, with a bunch of great songs and some truly incredible riffs and melodies that all fans of Swedish death metal in the vein of Dismember, Desultory, Goddefied and new bands like Entrails and Revel in Flesh will love deeply. I cannot say absolutely anything bad about this effort, although I am sure that moaners will say that it’s nothing original and they see no point in playing this type of music yet again. Fuck them. I love this sound, I love this demo and such songs like “In Search of the Perfect Skin”, “Unknown Graves”, “Emerged From Beyond” and “Culpable Homicide” are real anthems of OSSDM. Absolutely fantastic stuff.
“Simply Rotten Death” demo is also a nice effort, maybe a bit less effective as the other one, but just good and solid effort yet again. It may be lacking those truly memorable and insanely good songs with riffs that give you goose skin, but on the other hand it’s harsher and more aggressive death metal. Songs like “Falling Skies” and “Leeches of the Cross” (this one is a nice death doom masterpiece) do standout on this demo and deliver a lot of goodness. And it all ends with Gorefest’s classic demo tune “Tangled in Gore”, which has been nicely covered. I love such covers, of old death metal demo songs or old albums that not many people may know. This one is sweet. Very sweet.
Rotten Casket surely belongs to my top bands from this style of music. They definitely deserve your attention and I can now only hope that they’ll deliver more such goodness in upcoming months.

Final rate: 80/100

Cancerfaust - Killing Spree

CANCERFAUST - Killing Spree (Self released demo CD 2016)
Strong debut release came from Polish band called Cancerfaust. Their demo “Killing Spree” is tearing my guts out since few days and I am really enjoying this sonic torture. There are five tracks on this demo and it’s very solid effort, very well done brutal death metal. Their music is not super technical or fast, what works better for my taste, as I hate death metal that is too complex and hardly memorable. It makes me tired and bored. Cancerfaust is usually mid paced, rather simpler and straight forward, vicious band that has quite an old school feel, which is definitely something nice (or utterly unbearable for not death metallers haha). It’s brutal, groovy, it’s crushing. When I was thinking if I can compare them to anyone else, one of my first thoughts was Deranged. And then I saw that Deranged actually had a song called “Killing Spree” – so maybe that’s a clue haha! But you know, if you take also old Cannibal Corpse, or bands like Vile, Severe Torture, Insision, Blood Red Throne – they will all fit one or another, because it’s quite typical sounding death metal. But Cancerfaust did good job here, I like these songs, I cannot say anything bad about the performance of the band and the sound quality is also good enough… so, “Killing Spree” is a nice surprise and interesting debut. I am definitely looking forward to hear more from Cancerfaust and let’s hope they will only get better and better.

Final rate: 70/100

Coffinshade / Optophobic - Hymns of Sorrow and Fear

COFFINSHADE / OPTOPHOBIC - Hymns of Sorrow and Fear (PUTRID CULT - Split CD 2016)
Sorry, but I just didn’t manage to spend much time with this split CD. I’ve tried to do my best. I’ve tried few times to give it a good listen, but the dullness and shit quality of the music beat me completely. So, sorry, but this will be short and rather negative review, that will surely not encourage you to buy this CD. So, we have here two bands: Coffinshade (which is sort of US / Polish project) and Optophobic (Sweden). I didn’t know any of them and well, I doubt if I will want to be back to check their other recordings. Not in this life.
Coffinshade is definitely the worse band of the two. I am not big fan of depressive black metal, but if I play anything from this style then it has to be something truly interesting and capturing, with great atmosphere, etc. Coffinshade is just… bad, really. What a boring music, with complete lack of anything enjoyable and solid… Shitty riffs, complete inability to create proper atmosphere and more so, there are totally irritating and badly performed vocals – which surely are the worst part of music of this project. The cover of Nocturnal Depression is one of the worse songs I’ve ever heard, I wonder if original is also so fuckin shit. Sorry, but Coffinshade has just nothing to offer me, their music is forgettable, it’s annoying and did I already use the word “boring”? Yes, I did, but I will repeat it – because this music is boring, primitive and just bad. Waste of time.
Optophobic was supposed to be an atmospheric black metal project of guy, who calls himself God Eater. Supposedly, because for me it’s not really an atmospheric BM, but just primitive, rough and again really badly composed, performed and recorded stuff that does not deserve anyone’s attention. First thing, which caught my ears was programmed drumming that annoys the shit out of me. Then we hear some badly performed vocals. And again music, which sometimes sounds almost silly, so irritating and bad it is. Not a single riff is here, which I would like, not a single fragment, which would make me think that it’s something actually worthy. It’s barely listenable and quickly forgettable. I still cannot imagine people liking such low quality stuff and I am surprised that there are labels interested in releasing it (it definitely is the worse Putrid Cult release so far!). And I am surprised that whoever stands behind projects like this are not ashamed giving it to the world. No wonder then that they’re hiding behind silly pseudonyms. This home recording shouldn’t leave your bedroom, mate!
Optophobic may have been a tad better than Coffinshade, but all together they putted a damn crap release, no recommendation at all. The worst CD I’ve heard this year.

Final rate: 20/100

Monday, 5 December 2016

Suicidal Madness - Illusions funestes

SUICIDAL MADNESS - Illusions funestes (WOLFSPELL - CD 2016)
Before we go further into this review you need to realize that I am not so much into depressive black metal. I do enjoy to listen to the music of some DSBM projects, those, which have something exceptional and intriguing in their sound, but I just don’t play such stuff often. Wolfspell Records did release quite few great bands from this style, like Hermóðr and Kalmankantaja, and now I got an album from Suicidal Madness to review. “Illusions funestes” is their second album and it’s exactly the type of sorrowful and melancholic black metal, which leaves me careless. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that Suicidal Madness is worthless and has completely nothing to offer. No. They do present solid quality music, they do everything is proper, good way and generally you will not say that it’s an album to wipe your ass rather than to listen to. It’s just the fact that I personally couldn’t get into its atmosphere and generally I felt terribly bored by it is the reason why I will not recommend it. I had enough of it after couple of spins and my thoughts were like “so, I’ve listened to it two times, do I want to hear it again? Hmm, no”. Of course I did play it few more times, to give it a justice, but my impression didn’t change.
“Illusions funestes” is an album that may be OK for the fans of depressive black metal, but other listeners will let it in one ear but out the other. Immediately. There are some fragments, which did catch my attention a little bit more, there’re even couple of faster parts, there’s also an acoustic part accompanied by distorted guitar, which sounded really OK… Also “Corps dans un corps” came out better, with some nice sounding parts of violin and piano, what helped the band to set a nice atmosphere. But then you have songs like “Démence”, which with its completely uninspiring and boring riffs I would want to erase from this album right away. Then the title song – soooo boooring opening theme! I’m almost glad that the CD skips on this track, so I don’t have to listen to it in entirety. Or “Mort”, which may also have some interesting ideas (again due to the use of additional instruments such as acoustic guitar), but as a whole is boring and forgettable as hell. And I don’t even wanna start on the instrumental tracks that open and end this album – especially “Outro” sounds like something completely unnecessary.
So… “Illusions funestes” is not interesting enough to capture my attention and truly is a mediocre and unmemorable album. You can skip it.
Standout track: probably none, but let’s say “Corps dans un corps”

Final rate: 60/100

Convulse / Disma - Days of Death

CONVULSE / DISMA - Days of Death (DOOMENTIA Split 7"EP 2013)
This split 7” had to wait a (long) while before I finally played it. It actually took me two years to put it on the turntable haha. Well, better late than never. I really like many Doomentia Records releases and this split titled “Days of Death” surely is another solid and worthy release from the Czech label. I love Disma, who are among my favourite new old school death metal bands. I also like Convulse, but only for what they have done in the 90’s rather for their comeback recordings, which are not so impressive anymore. But with one song from each band, “Days of Death” is a nice release and great combination of different styles of old school death metal.
Convulse starts up with “We Kill Our Kind”, song which also opens their comeback album “Evil Prevails”. I don’t know if there’re any differences between the split EP and album versions, but that doesn’t matter. This song is actually good and solid effort, I quite like the production and atmosphere of this track, as well as the heaviness of it. This is surely the best song Convulse did after the reunion, even if far from something spectacular, but decent for sure.
Disma comes with “Unwept in Oblivion”, which originally was published on very limited edition of “Towards the Megalith” vinyl, on additional 7” record. It’s been remastered and remixed for this split and I have to say that it’s yet another Disma song, which I love. I love that grim, mournful, dark aura of their music, I love its sheer heaviness and massiveness of the sound, I love the earth shaking riffage, which often has a nice harmonious accents that remind me some old Swedish death / doom acts. And I love Daryl Kahan’s vicious vocals. Basically everything about their style is perfect for me and it will not be exaggeration if I say that they’re among the best death metal bands these days. “Unwept in Oblivion” is a fine proof for it and I have to admit that I played this song way many times more than “We Kill Our Kind”.
Great split then, Disma rules, Convulse came with a decent song as well. And everything is packed in beautiful gatefold, with truly spectacular artwork from Ola Larsson. All these deserves a solid 80/100.

Final rate: 80/100

Carbonized - Disharmonization

CARBONIZED - Disharmonization (FOUNDATION 2000 - CD 1993)
I’m not gonna keep this review long. Why? Because I was – and still am – extremely disappointed and unhappy with the way the music of Carbonized went after their debut album. I really like this band’s early stuff. “Au-To-Dafe” and “Recarbonization” demos, “No Canonization” EP and finally “For the Security” LP are great pieces of unique, slightly grinding Swedish death metal. It was very good, a bit experimental and sometimes progressive but brutal stuff, which definitely belonged to some of the most original recordings in the early 90’s. And then Carbonized recorded this… something. “Disharmonization” is extremely different and musically incomparable to anything else they’ve done before. Yes, it basically has nothing in common not only with the previous Carbonized recordings, but with death metal at all. This music sounds sick, almost kind of schizophrenic, due the way how it sounds and switches between many weird riffs, styles and ideas.
I guess you can say that “Disharmonization” is sort of fusion between prog rock, jazz, funk, fuck knows what else with Voivod and a very small touch of death metal or metal in general added to have even weirder effect. Right from the first song you’ll be like “what the hell is that??”. Where are these chunky, heavy, sometimes twisted riffs of Carbonized gone? Where’s brutal growling gone?
The opening instrumental song is as bizarre as it is useless. I don’t like how Carbonized opens this album. And I don’t like what follows. “Vlad Tepes” greets us with really bizarre riffs, which have almost painful effect, because you’ll feel like this sick melodies are drilling your head and give an instant headache. Guitar parts aren’t aggressive at all of course. I mentioned that it all sounds like incomparable fusion of many non-metal genres, with weird, sometimes almost annoying and cacophonous riffs and vocals, which have clean, but really mad tone. I bet you’ll listen to “Vlad Tepes” and wonder what is going on there. I’m glad that the next song “Lord of Damnation” contains few heavier (death??) metal riffs, there’s even nice grinding fast part and harsh growls of Christopher Johnsson. But that song is an exception, as the majority of the album is exactly what a title like “Disharmonization” can describe. Sometimes it all sounds out of tune, other time it sounds if someone drunk was making noise on the guitar… and you know, I don’t care, as it all sounds absolutely shit to me. I really don’t like this album. When I bought it I felt disappointment, but I wanted to give it more listens and see if I can find method in this madness. But I never did. And I still cannot force myself to like “Disharmonization”. Sure, there are some fragments that will remind you the brilliancy of the debut LP or EP, like “The Voice of the Slained Pig” and “Lord of Damnation”… but it doesn’t matter. But the whole album is barely listenable and surely far from what I like to hear. Such hybrids hardly ever work well and to be honest, I prefer pure and simple death metal rather than experimenting with sounds and styles.
Standout tracks: “The Voice of the Slained Pig”, “Lord of Damnation”, “Spanish Fly”

Final rate: 45/100