Friday, 27 May 2016

Slaughter - Into the Darkness

Thrashing Madness Productions takes another step on their journey into the depths of Polish metal underground, exhuming another old band from the grave... and bringing us Slaughter this time! I have to say that I've never been so much into their „Into the Darkness” demo, but it’s not because the music was shit. I don’t know what it was like really, because my copy on dubbed cassette was just very, very bad and it was basically unlistenable. I'm assuming that with the reissue of „Into the Darkness” demo on CD it means that you'll never hear this demo in better quality...If you're very sensitive on bad produced, noisy recordings, then I will not try to convince you to grab a copy of this CD. But if you like all those relics from the ancient extreme metal scene and you're not bothered if something sounds as bad as a rehearsal recording, then I am sure that Slaughter will be for you.
Yes, the sound quality can be the biggest problem for many listeners. But it isn't as terrible as you would fear. You can easily hear some killer riffs, there are definitely some really awesome and almost memorable tunes like "Bestial Death Metal" or "Czas apokalipsy", which surely will crush your head with some fantastic parts. With such killer songs it just doesn't matter if the sound quality is bad or the technical aspects of the whole demo, including band members' skills as musicians, were rather low. This demo has a feeling, which is fantastic. And that aggression of thrash / death is also great. These days such demos like „Into the Darkness” sound incredibly archaic, but again - who cares??? The only thing, which I don't like about it are some of the joke songs, which many Polish bands added to their demos like „Pankraction Mania” and „Gargamels Scream”. For me this is just a waste of time (luckily they're very short).
Oh, I suppose I should quickly write also few words about the history of Slaughter. It is well presented in nice, extended booklet for this CD. But let me just remind you that Slaughter was formed back in 1987 in Koszalin (North of Poland). „Into the Darkness” was the only recording they ever did, sadly. At some point the band recruited Piotr Kuziola aka Berial from Betrayer as vocalist / bassist and he probably made Slaughter sound so damn nasty and aggressive. But once he left to concentrate on Betrayer, Slaughter was basically dead. Anyway, after this CD edition we can hear the voice from the old crypt and „Into the Darkness” is here again; demo, which you could put aside to old Vader, Betrayer, Thanatos, Armagedon, Ghost, Merciless Death or Manslaughter demo recordings.
Standout tracks: “Czas apokalipsy”, “Assassin”, “Bestial Death Metal”

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 20 May 2016

Gorrch - Nera Estasi

GORRCH - Nera Estasi (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2016)
Never judge the book by its cover, they say. You also should remember this, when you’ll see this fuckin bad artwork for this CD. Even the band name doesn’t sound that good. All these doubts will be quickly erased when you’ll hear some of the best black metal that was ever composed and recorded in Italia. Hmm, OK, I know that this country is not fuckin Norway or Sweden, and they never had too many bands to be proud of. But some I can surely mention here! Along Mortuary Drape you will have to check Spite Extreme Wings (with killer “Vltra”), Janvs (“Fvlgvres”) or Ars Macabra (“III”). And Gorrch is also real precious stuff, in my opinion.
“Nera Estasi”, which is Gorrch’s debut album, doesn’t leave my CD player since almost a week now. I’m really impressed and will use this opportunity to recommend it to you all now, because Gorrch deserves attention! Stylistically their music sounds to me like a perfect combination of old and new. I can hear many traditional black metal riffs and ways of arrangements / ideas. But along them the whole music has more modern sounding song structures, production and the atmosphere is similar to many newer black metal bands. More so, Gorrch has a slightly progressive touch here and there. And in the end it’s the diversity of “Nera Estasi” what I can say is the greatest strength of this album. Within each song you can hear many different ways of playing and emotions. The music can go from blasting black metal through atmospheric stuff up to something very harmonious and with trance like feeling. I like how it all smoothly changes, but doesn’t sound too odd or out of place. Everything here sounds solid and the song structures, ideas for arrangements, compositions, all the riffs are damn superb. Take the final song for example. For me it’s an instant boner, really. It’s fantastic instrumental song, which has so many great riffs and passages that the impression is simply enormous. And it starts relatively quietly, but gets more aggressive and faster before the song is finished. Or you can listen to “Atra Bile”, which is probably the most melodic and slowest song from the whole album (but even here there are some fast parts, of corpse!!), reminding me Gehenna a bit, maybe because the vocalist sound a lot like Sanrabb haha! But the result is again just fantastic. And when later “Crudo primordio” blasts off with some killer riffs and great mixture of bit more clean sounding vocals and harsh scream, the result if simply perfect – yet again! A lot of the riffs in this song are very traditional and you would be able to compare them to classic Scandinavian black metal, but again… I feel like Gorrch is way more than just that.
Due to this diversity, the music is sometimes quite difficult to be described or categorized, I couldn’t compare it to one or two other bands. But I suppose this should not even matter or be a problem. The quality is there, the whole “Nera Estasi” is simply excellent and well… If you never heard of Gorrch before, check this band out asap.
Standout tracks: “Crudo primordio”, “Nera Estasi”

Final rate: 90/100

Thursday, 12 May 2016

A.H.P. - Against Human Plague

A.H.P. - Against Human Plague (VIA NOCTURNA - CD 2016)
Some of you may be familiar with Gulnar, also from the band called Illness. This Polish / but based in Norway / project delivered some really good albums through the past years (I especially recommend his last work, an EP titled “Trumna”). But recently Gulnar did also an album for his another project called AHP what stands for “Against Human Plague” and this is how his debut album is also called. To be honest, I don’t know why this album was not released as Illness, as stylistically Illness and AHP are pretty close… but who cares. It doesn’t matter at all. I can tell you one thing for sure; that “Against Human Plague” is fantastic and very impressive album.
Illness was known for its unconventional take on harsh black metal with something they called audio necroterror. AHP is pretty much similar, as it also combines traditional means of Scandinavian black metal in the vein of Mayhem and Darkthrone with dirty, mechanical wall of noise, creating a disturbing and hateful sound, which in some way may remind you such Mysticum, Blacklodge or even some very early bits from Anaal Nathrakh and Aborym. But on the other hand it offers a bit more. For example the first song on “Against Human Plague”, which is also a title track, begins with a riff that could have easily been taken from “Under a Funeral Moon” (both album and the song!), with its total simplicity and aggression, dark and hateful aura. This is also as ferocious and fast as it can only get. And such are many songs on this album. It’s straight to the point and no bullshit harsh, industrialized black metal. But among my favourite songs is “Drowned”, which is much slower, more melancholic and kind of how Burzum sounded on such “Filosofem”, at least in the beginning, as with time it gets more aggressive.
What intrigues here is how this album is structured. You have all those harsh, noisy black metal anthems, but every second track is a disturbing, dark ambient / industrial piece. “Down Here”, “Decay” or “Dungeon of Rotting Corpses” are kind of bridges between all songs, but they also work as something what is about to complete that whole deranged and schizophrenic aura of this music. The feeling of listening to something mechanical and inhuman is even bigger then. These ambient pieces I just mentioned are all instrumental, except one called “Crawling Shadows”. This one is just an insane ambient with some harsh, furious screams of Gulnar over it. And it sounds awesome.
Completed with couple of cover tunes (of War and Beherit), you will obtain a diverse and intriguing, very well composed album that I think some will hate, but many will truly like. I’m definitely into “Against Human Plague”, very recommended album for sure.
Standout tracks: “Against Human Plague”, “Crawling Shadows”, “Drowned”
Final rate: 80/100

Fra Waurhts - For Celestial Glory

FRA WAURHTS - For Celestial Glory (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2016)
It seems like I have time only for uninspiring and uninteresting black metal today. This is third black metal release that I am listening to and reviewing since very early morning and third, which is not able to impress me with anything. So, I have enough of it haha! Anyway, Schattenkult Produktionen seems to have some absolutely fantastic CD releases. For example Shadows Ground album, which is my favourite for sure, but also Gorrch and Vrag were damn awesome. But they also sent me CD of Adversus, which I didn’t like so much… and now I can say the same about Fra Waurhts. It may be better than Adversus, but I cannot describe the quality of the music from “For Celestial Glory” with other words than mediocre and hardly capturing.
It just feels like I was listening to a bunch of repetitive and constantly mediocre riffs and forgettable songs. And the more time I was spending with Fra Waurhts, the more I had this urge feeling that I wanna stop this boring experience and play something else. I cannot deny that Fra Waurhts music is very aggressive, very rough and obscure sounding, that it surely may be ideal for fans of bands like Revenge, but also of some old Greek and German black metal bands. But that quality I look for is not there; and if it is, then it’s barely scratched. It’s listenable, it has some decent moments, but it’s also very one dimensional, very archaic and very primitive. Sometimes being primitive and old sounding is not a problem if it comes along with killer songs. Other time it is, if it comes with nothing but plain boredom. For me, this is exactly the case of “For Celestial Glory”. And I cannot really imagine that Fra Waurhts will grab a lot of attention (which they probably don’t even want to get) and positive feedbacks, because this album simply doesn’t deserve that. As I mentioned, it is better than Adversus, but being the second worst band in the current roster of your label won’t bring you any pride also.

Final rate: 50/100

Wolf Omega - Nazywają Go Demonem Gór

WOLF OMEGA - Nazywają Go Demonem Gór (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2016)
Somehow from the beginning I had this feeling like “Nazywają Go Demonem Gór” won’t be an album that I will like.  And that’s not just because the artwork looks so bad, but everything else around Wolf Omega was not so promising. This relatively new two men project consists of people, who’re also in Lęk and “Nazywają Go Demonem Gór” is their debut album for Wolf Omega. I gave this CD few listens, but honestly I quickly got bored with it. It isn’t terrible, it’s just so damn mediocre that I lost any will to spend more time on it than it is necessary to write a fairly informative review.
I suppose that what worked the best for Wolf Omega was how they managed to recreate this totally archaic, early 90’s Polish black metal sound. Definitely this album sounds like acts like Graveland, Infernum and so on, mixed a bit with the Greek scene sound. Think then of the very simplistic rhythms and riffs, rather not so much variety between all songs, because it sounds like all songs have been done in the same vein and idea. The song strictures are also very uncomplicated, what only underlines the whole primitive feeling of the music… well, yeah. This is one of the most archaic sounding albums I have heard in a while. And it isn’t that good. “Nazywają Go Demonem Gór” makes only mediocre impression on me, I quickly start feeling bored with it and I cannot find anything what would really impress me. I feel almost irritated with that drumming and style of guitar riffs, which you can often hear, with that “umpa-umpa” crappy style that I hate. And even if “Nazywają Go Demonem Gór” is far from being a total waste of time, it’s barely an OK album. I’m sure it will gain some good opinions from people, who worship such ancient sounding black metal. Not me though. Surely it's one of the weakest albums from Wolfspell Records.

Final rate: 50/100

Vrag - Species of One

VRAG - Species of One (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2015)
God damn, I don’t know why I thought that this band is from Romania or Hungary, while it actually hails from Australia! My mistake! And another one I made was when thinking about Vrag as some lousy newcomer, who won’t be interesting or worthy of anyone’s attention. Ha, not only they’re not some greenhorns (formed in 1999!), but also the last thing you can say about their music is that it’s useless crap. No! “Species of One” turned out to be fantastic, worthy black metal album that I enjoyed a lot and will surely be coming back to as often as I only could.
Yes, it’s a nice surprise and great quality harsh black metal album. What I like about it is that you cannot put a single name of another band for comparison. Obviously there’s a strong influence from the mighty Darkthrone and such records as “Ravishing Grimness” up to “Sardonic Wrath” era. Later you can pick some (Swedish) Pest, Urgehal or even Carpathian Forest for some more comparisons, but Vrag had quite individual, personal sound, what makes “Species of One” even more worthy. And I just love their take on harsh black metal. It sounds aggressive and vicious. It has dark and cold, eerie atmosphere. But some of these riffs sound almost catchy and damn infectious, and the vocals are fantastic. I guess the reason why I enjoy the whole music so much is that these vocals along many of the riffs sound a lot like Dodheimsgard’s “Kronet til Konge”, which since many, many years stays as one of my old time favourite black metal albums. And I think that this is the album that I can compare “Species of One” the most to. Listen to such “Ahasver” or “Vagrant in the Astral Plane” and you will know what I mean.
I guess I didn’t also expect Vrag music to sound so damn memorable, so easily listenable, for this kind of music. Maybe it’s due to the good production value? Personally I don’t see this catchiness as something negative, because Vrag never steps away from the canons of traditional black metal. They don’t wanna flirt with keyboards or harmonious / avantgarde stuff and keep the genre clean. Even if there’s one fragment, when they used female vocals, it doesn’t break the malicious, spiteful feeling of the aura of their black metal. Hmm, speaking about such an unknown band in just superlatives is always a cool thing, so I hope that some of you will end up buying this CD and discover some of the best Australian black metal (for me personally, it sounds better than rather boring Drowning the Light). Hails!
Standout tracks: “Ahasver”, “Vagrant in the Astral Plane”, “Species of One”, “Inverse Horizon”

Final rate: 80/100

Stillborn - Testimonio de Bautismo

STILLBORN - Testimonio de Bautismo (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2016)
Time seems to move so quickly. It feels like yesterday when Stillborn was a newcoming band, with debut album “Satanas el Grande” released on Pagan Records. But it’s now twelve years later and album number four (five if you include “Esta rebelión es eternal”) arrives to my quarters. Yeah, this was fast. Anyway, I have to admit that I’ve never been huge Stillborn music fan. It’s OK, I like it, but I’ve never been 666% enthusiastic about it and don’t really come back to their albums often. I have similar feelings for Bloodthirst, by the way. Things may change for better though, because here’s „Testimonio de Bautismo” and damn, I have to say that never before I felt so violently massacred by Stillborn music. This is really great album and surely my favourite in their whole discography!
Technically speaking, Stillborn didn’t change much since their earlier days, as they carry on playing their violent blend of black and thrash metal, with some of the most fierce and vicious attitudes you can imagine. But they just never sounded so bestial and aggressive as on „Testimonio de Bautismo”, in my opinion. Maybe the production is the reason why this album sounds so much better than any of its predecessors or maybe it’s just because the songs are better? Well, they definitely are better, with truly killer riffs everywhere, some fantastic arrangements (listen to “Obłęd” and how fantastically it begins). And the vocals, which sound like performed by possessed, maniacal person. And I don’t know if I’m going crazy, but quite often this album sounds almost catchy to me, even though it should never give any pleasant feelings. There are no sweet harmonies, no charming melodies. It hardly ever slows down, so technically this album should be a violent, punching attack that will leave just fire and death behind. But even if it is like that, it sounds memorable to me anyway haha. Give a listen to such “Upiór” or “Modlitwa poganina” for example, which are the slowest songs on this CD. Or give a listen to the insanely malicious “Obłęd”. All songs will force a maniacal headbanging and will explode into your ears with merciless aggression. Even the final song, which is an instrumental piece, sounds like a perfect summary of the whole „Testimonio de Bautismo” – what a blast!!! And if you dig bands like Impiety, some Australian troops of death and even the Canadian war demons, then Stillborn should be for you also.
Finally let me also say that I think that it worked extremely great to use Polish lyrics for this album. Not only I enjoy the blasphemous texts with that “fuck off” attitude, but the vocals performed by Killer have gained a bit more pissed off character and it fits the whole music perfectly.
I have to say that here in Poland we have great gift for bands alike to Stillborn. Give a listen to Bestiality, Witchmaster, Hell United, Kingdom and Persecutor – to name just few. They all share similar attitude towards metal and play it in the most violent and ferocious ways. It looks like „Testimonio de Bautismo” reached my top three of favourite Polish albums from all the bands that I just mentioned. And that’s something I didn’t really expect, but the more pleased I am when I give it a listen and enjoy this fuckin sweet, blasting metal of death.
Standout tracks: “Obłęd”, “Upiór”

Final rate: 90/100

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Deiquisitor - Deiquisitor

DEIQUISITOR - Deiquisitor (ANCIENT DARKNESS Productions CD 2016)
This is one of those albums that I’ve been really looking forward to hear. Ever since I heard Deiquisitor’s fantastic “Hexagon Vortex” EP for the first time and felt how strongly is their massive sound crushing every bone in my body, I knew that this is a band that I need to keep my eyes open at as they’re able to come up with something exceptional. Finally the beast was unleashed in the start of 2016 and some weeks later it arrived to my quarters with one mission: to fuckin destroy again! And yes, it does that easily.
Man, what a great band Deiquisitor is. I am fully aware that they probably will never become popular or trendy act, but I can assure you that their music should please many death metal maniacs. It’s obvious also that they don’t perform death metal that you have not heard before. More so, it seems like this sort of obscure and ghoulish death metal sound has been adopted by quite few better or worse acts these days. But none of that makes “Deiquisitor” a less intriguing and captivating album. It’s actually the opposite!
I just love that massive, utterly heavy and sepulchral, obscure sound of Deiquisitor. This is death metal that could easily crush every bone in your flesh and shred it into a pile of filthy carcass. It’s just insanely heavy, totally beastly and vicious. And brutal! At the same time the atmosphere is very dark, dismal and malicious. It can obviously remind you Immolation and Incantation strongly, and such comparison would do no harm to Deiquisitor. But you know, I feel like Deiquisitor is much more than that. Their music is for example much more fast and ravaging, they rather avoid the harmonious part of Immolation (although it does appear rarely like in “Black Matter Vortex”) and hardly ever step into the doomy part of Incantation. And that intensity, which Deiquisitor managed to find is something I like the most. When combined with some killer riffs, totally eerie atmosphere that surrounds every sound here and with superb heavy production, the result can only be fantastic. Some may moan about the similarity between all songs, and I guess that I can even agree that the band may have not had enough ideas to cover all twelve songs they offer here, so at times it gets a bit repetitive. But for me that’s a minor fault and with the sheer intensity and brutality “Deiquisitor” feels super awesome. This album contains all songs from the previous CD plus a bunch of new stuff. With a bit over 30 minutes of music, it’s enough for me to feel fully satisfied.
In the end, let me say one more thing. Deiquisitor members are also strongly involved in Danish black metal scene, with acts like Sadomator, Luciation, Blodfest, Wolfslair, Ogdru Jahad and so on. And it’s OK, I like some of them. But I have to say that none of these black metal bands (at least what I’ve heard so far) sounds even half as killer as Deiquisitor. This band crushed everything else they’ve been ever involved haha!
Standout tracks: “Black Matter Vortex”, “Celestial Rituals”, “Through Ethereal Deeps”

Final rate: 80/100

Adversus - Principium Ascensionis

ADVERSUS - Principium Ascensionis (SCHATTENKULT CD 2015)
Another release from Schattenkult is Adversus, Belgian black metal band with their debut recording “Principium Ascensionis”. I honestly won’t be able to say much about Adversus and both gentlemen, who’re hiding behind names Frater G. and Frater E. Metal Archives says something about two or three other bands that they’re involved in, but I haven’t heard about any of them. Never heard of Adversus before also, so let’s just skip the introducing part, as you won’t be able to learn much from me.
Anyway, I’ve been trying to focus as much as I can on “Principium Ascensionis” and I did my best to get into this music… but I just couldn’t. As much as I worship traditional sounding harsh black metal (my recent review of Shadows Ground from the same label says a lot, I guess), in this case I just don’t feel convinced and to be honest, this is one of those albums that I feel totally careless about. I can understand that both members of Adversus tried to come up with some of the most chaotic, hateful and exceptionally “unfriendly” or unlistenable black metal, but it just doesn’t work for me. There’s almost nothing on this CD that I would really like; two or three riffs surely is not enough for me. Sometimes it just sounds like poor try to play instruments, but the primitive results are rather pitiful.
I know, I know… black metal has to be ugly and disgusting (oh, does it really???). I don’t care about such orthodox opinion, especially as black metal can have many faces. It can be atmospheric, it can be harsh. It can even sound mesmerizing. But on top of all, it’s either shit or exceptional. In this case, sorry to say so, but it’s pitiful and bad. These couple of moments, when I liked it a bit more are not enough and the whole “Principium Ascensionis” is as forgettable as it can only be. I doubt that people need more bands like Adversus, I don’t... so I'm not going to spend more time on listening to this album than I already did.

Final rate: 30/100

Petrychor - Apocalyptic Witchcraft / Makrokosmos

PETRYCHOR - Apocalyptic Witchcraft / Makrokosmos (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2016)
Atmospheric black metal is doing great these days. We have labels like Vordvis, Eisenwald, Wolfspell and more that find some new and interesting projects from that sort of music. It just became impossible to be able to get everything that would seem interesting, so many fine releases are out there nowadays. But we can only try. And in this review I wanna recommend you a completely unknown project from USA that may interest you also, if you’re fan of atmospheric black metal. This project is called Petrychor and to be honest, first time I’ve heard of it was when I got the CD called “Apocalyptic Witchcraft / Makrokosmos”. I still don’t know much about its history, I don’t know nothing about the guy, who stands behind this project. Digipak is rather poor with information, although it does unveil a bit of details about the concept for these two recordings (concept, which is strongly bond with nature, earth and cosmos). And yes, two recordings, because this release is like a compilation with two separate releases of Petrychor (“Apocalyptic Witchcraft” from 2015 and “Makrokosmos” from 2014).
“Apocalyptic Witchcraft” is just one, but 25 minutes long song. And I have to say I love it and when compared to “Makrokosmos”, I can definitely say that on this EP everything sounds just better. The music is so well performed and composed, very intelligent and captivating, with a great diversity and combination of folky, acoustic stuff with atmospheric black metal. This song can go into two completely opposite directions – from melancholic, sorrowful stuff, with beautiful acoustic passages to fast, harsh black metal, progressive at times and always very atmospheric and dark. It’s balanced properly, never becoming boring or over length, which is always a risk, if you decide to compose a 25 minutes long song. Petrychor did very well here, each part of this song brings another great motif and the whole piece is quite easily listenable. I also like how it’s been arranged, how Petrychor composer uses keyboards, guitar melodies, acoustic and everything else. Sometimes it has even that post (black) metal feeling, which is cool also, reminding me for example Panopticon’s recent album.
Will I surprise you if I say that I like the quiet and less aggressive moments the most? Especially, when towards the end the music becomes hypnotizing with the post metal feeling and then it’s followed with beautiful acoustic piece. Damn, it sounds mesmerizing. The production is also quite nice, it’s clean and good for this sort of music. I have no idea if there’re programmed drums, but they do sound very well as well. So, you can see that I’m very positive towards “Apocalyptic Witchcraft” and this song surely deserves attention.
And as for “Makrokosmos”, well I have to say that this album – with four songs – is not quite as good as the recent EP. Still good but I enjoyed the newer EP more. First what I can say about ”Makrokosmos” is that the production is much harsher and it could have been a bit better. Secondly, the musical style is different and I like the style from “Apocalyptic Witchcraft” more. Don’t get me wrong. There are also some stunning and captivating fragments, here and there you can really feel tell that this dude behind Petrychor is very talented. Listen to “Ceaseless White” and how for example he incorporates violin into fast and raw sounding black metal! That’s not just exceptional, but it sounds fantastic. Weird, yes, but damn good also. ”Planets Born of Human Ashes” is another worth mentioning piece here, very long song, filled with dissonant and post metallish playing. With songs like this you can tell that “Apocalyptic Witchcraft” was much more black metal focused, while “Makrokosmos” is different, more post metal / ambient stuff (“Cosmic Irrelevance Does Not Suggest Terrestrial Insignificance”). Generally the second part of this CD is more difficult to get into, but personally once I managed to do so, I just liked it as well.
So, what else can I say? Nothing more is needed, I guess. Petrychor is very interesting, in my opinion. “Apocalyptic Witchcraft” is fantastic atmospheric black metal, “Makrokosmos” is great post (black) metal / ambient stuff. I am quite surprised with this CD, as it’s not necessarily the usual Wolfspell Records type of release, but I am not gonna moan that this label decided to release something different, if it’s that bloody good. Recommended again, digipack is limited to 500 copies only.
Standout tracks: “Apocalyptic Witchcraft”, ”Planets Born of Human Ashes”

Final rate: 70/100

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Infected Virulence - Music of Melkor

Isn’t that a weird title for death metal album? “Music of Melkor”. Hmm, obviously those, who have read Tolkien’s “Silmarillion” will know, who Melkor was. And those who didn’t, well let me just say that Melkor is the same evil being that later became known as… Morgoth! So, this album could have been titled “Music of Morgoth”, but that would be silly haha! It’s even more surprising to read that the lyrics are also dealing with the “Silmarillion” concept – was it the first death metal band to have this kind of Tolkien influence in their lyrics, as far as I can remember???
Anyway, “Music of Melkor” was originally released in 1994 in huge quantity of… 300 copies!!! What makes it a damn rare artefact these days and almost impossible to find (although I know someone, who has three copies of it. Insane dude, you know who you are haha!). And as always, it would be just a damn shame to let such an album rot in forgotten tomb, so I welcome an idea for reissuing it with open arms. Such great albums need to be saved from oblivion. Raw Skull Rekordz with Ancient Darkness took care of reissuing “Music of Melkor”, so now you can grab yourself a copy of this legendary German death metal piece quite easily and you won’t end up paying quarter of your monthly wages. And even if I wish the booklet was better – with more pages, archival photographs and maybe some liner notes – nothing will spoil the joy of listening to this killer album.
But let me first say one thing, which I think works against “Music of Melkor”. Obviously it’s only my opinion, but I think that Infected Virulence’s self titled 1992 demo was better than this album! I love all songs from the demo, the dark, brutal feeling they have, all riffs and vocals and just perfect demo production. For me “Infected Virulence” is close to excellence. When speaking of “Music of Melkor”, I can say that the production is maybe not quite as good as demo’s, even though it’s still allright. All songs are good and solid, but maybe without that spark which would set everything in fire. You can notice that Infected Virulence has changed their style slightly, especially with songs like the title track, which I can even say that I don’t like so much, because this song has that groovy feeling, which I’ve never been a big fan of. So, not everything on “Music of Melkor” works well, this album is surely not as killer as the demo, but it’s still damn good piece of death metal, with some fine songs.
“Music of Melkor” is classic death metal record, filled with some excellent riffs, all played in mid paced or slow tempo, with almost no fast parts (they appear sporadically maybe in couple of songs only). But Infected Virulence kept their music all brutal and sick all the time through the album, only sometimes letting themselves to include a small melodic piece like it happens in “Tol Eressea”. Some of these riffs have a strong Bolt Thrower infection (even the vocals sound like early Karl Willets haha), especially in such tracks as “Earendil” or “Doom of the Atani”. Some other time I feel like they sound a bit like the most death metal version of Napalm Death and you know, can we even complain on that?! Nope!
Generally it’s an album that stayed unknown and forgotten for too many years. I realize it was originally released in not the best time, when all the death metal masterpieces were already released and the need for another death metal band was not so high. Bands like Morgoth started to change – progress as they called it… Infected Virulence released this album and then also decided to take this unnecessary step for progression… and quickly died, with not much success. But good thing is that many of these unknown bands nowadays sound better than ever before and their old demos or albums get more recognition today than twenty years ago. I hope the same will happen with Infected Virulence and “Music of Melkor”. It’s very good album, so get the CD. Try also to find their demo CD, as it’s even better… and well, let’s just hope no one will give them a bad idea to reform haha!
Standout tracks: “Doom of the Atani”, “Nirnaeth Arnodiad”, “Earendil”, “The North Aflame”

Final rate: 80/100

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Infected Virulence - Infected Virulence

INFECTED VIRULENCE - Infected Virulence (Demo 1992/CD 2015)
Time for a real relic from the ancient death metal past. And band, which I don’t think is known to that many people. Personally I was also introduced to Infected Virulence not a long ago by a good friend of mine. He said it’s one of the best old German bands and that they surely deserve more attention. But sadly Infected Virulence split up way too early. Well, this isn’t surprise for me, because many death metal bands ended in the mid 90’s, when this music stopped being popular. But who cares… Here’s a fantastic CD that was released recently and which contains some of the early Infected Virulence songs. This is their “Infected Virulence” demo in entirety, originally released in 1992. In may 2015 an unknown label OSDM re-released it on CD format, limited to just 150 copies. And I have one of them, what makes me very happy man now. Because this music is absolutely fantastic and it’s better than many more known bands with their full length albums!
I love every song on this demo, seriously. Infected Virulence brings fierce slaughter, tearing apart and crushing with some of the best and most classic sounding death metal riffs you can imagine. Obviously their style was pretty common for the old days’ death scene, but damn, this demo grew old fantastically and nowadays can be seen as a real jewel and finest artifact of obscure death metal from the early 90’s. Oh yeah, this demo sounds so good! Stylistically you can put it somewhere between early Morgoth, Agoraphobia and Fleshcrawl debut CD, along with some similarities to Bolt Thrower (just listen to “From Beyond the Dead”), Asphyx and even some Swedish acts (like more brutallized Unleashed!). Well, for me this is a perfect combination of death metal styles haha and I bet that these sounds should be a wet dreams for all death maniacs. As I mentioned, all songs here are super awesome, I must also say that not only the performance of every member and songwriting are fantastic, but I also love the production of this demo. I can even admit that I love this demo more than the debut album of Infected Virulence (“Music for Melkor”).
Summing it all up, in my opinion this is one of the best death metal demos I’ve ever heard. “Infected Virulence” sounds just spotless and 100% perfect for my taste of this music and damn, I can listen to it all the time. Obviously Germany had many killer bands back in the old days – Torchure, Fleshcrawl, Obscenity, Mangled Torsos, Agoraphobia, Morgoth, Dawn… but it seems like none of them was so underrated as Infected Virulence. It’s about time then to remind you about them!
Standout tracks: ALL, but “Infected Virulence” is especially infectious

Final rate: 95/100

Pyromancer - Demo MMXV

This is Pyromancer, an American beast that features Master of Graveyard Torment on drums and Conqueror Horus on guitars, both also performing vocal duties. And both are also members of some other bands, but I honestly don’t know any of them. Pyromancer is reasonably fresh thing. This is their first recording, simply called “Demo MMXV”, originally released on cassette and now Godz ov War Productions has unleashed this filth on CD format. By the first look, I have to say that I love the whole layout. Fantastic logo, great visual side of this release…
And music… well, this is some seriously violent, vulgar and obscure black / death metal. Or war metal or bestial metal… whatever you call it. With just five songs and less that quarter of an hour, Pyromancer delivers just extreme, harsh sounding, barbaric stuff, something that maniacs of bands like Revenge, Archgoat or Diocletian will surely love. The whole aura around these sounds is incredibly dark and hateful, and the chaotic, almost primitive style of Pyromancer music conjures this feeling perfectly. Their riffs are sometimes almost archaic, luckily though Pyromancer had enough guts to come up with some great songs and achieved a harsh, but energetic production, so when played loud, “Demo MMXV” makes quite a nice impression. I like also the dual vocal performance, where growls are mixed with pissed off screams. And I like the whole straight forward, no bullshit attitude of this music.
Yeah, Pyromancer is definitely not breaking the wheels and is not coming up with anything groundbreaking or immortal… but damn, it felt like some intense punches in the face when I played their music. Good stuff for the bestial black metal maniacs.
Standout track: “Inferno”

Final rate: 70/100

Monday, 25 April 2016

Shadows Ground - Mysteria Mystica Calvus Mons

SHADOWS GROUND - Mysteria Mystica Calvus Mons (SCHATTENKULT Produktionen CD 2016)
I’ve never been a big fan of Ukrainian black metal. I do like Nokturnal Mortum a bit, also Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra and obviously Drudkh, but that’s all what’s good there and that I can think of. But here’s band from Donetsk, which I recently liked a lot. Sadly “Mysteria Mystica Calvus Mons” is the first release of them, which I had a chance to hear (and they have three more albums and some demos released before as well). The band is called Shadows Ground. Formed back in 1998, they must be among the longest running and most productive black metal acts from Ukraine. Which is not important for me, really, because it not always means that the music is good. But in this case, it is.
Originally released as tape in 2013, and now released on CD by Schattenkult Produktionen, “Mysteria Mystica Calvus Mons” is in my opinion just perfect offer for the maniacs of traditional sounding black metal. This album has everything that I like about this genre in its purest form and I’m really glad to hear album like that. Why? Well, it’s because these days most of black metal we get is infected with some trendy influences. Which is nothing wrong, as I like a lot of it, but… well, it just feels great to hear pure black metal record with no hype, no trends or other bullshit. Shadows Ground keeps it all obscure and traditional and probably don’t care if it will help them to gain recognition or not. I also don’t care if people know them or not, and as long as this band keeps on bringing such great music as “Mysteria Mystica Calvus Mons”, then it’s all fine with me!
So, we have traditional black metal here. It does have strong influence from classics like Darkthrone, Mayhem… as well as newer bands such as Armagedda (“Unholy Rituals”, first song off the album, reminds me Armagedda a lot), Pest or Craft. It’s got everything I like about this sort of black metal. There are great riffs, fantastic cold, grim and hateful aura, quite good production, which fits perfectly to this sort of music… and very good compositions and arrangements, which you just cannot call primitive or worthless shit. This music is simple, but not in bad meaning of this word. And the performance is very good; drums, guitars, bass, fantastic vocals of Waam (which combine harsh vocals with that eerie howling, which can remind you Attila’s voice like in “I Am Hatred”). The music is mostly fast, but it’s never monotonous. And it sounds equally awesome if it’s slow as when it is fast. I have to admit that I got infected with Shadows Ground music right from the very first time I played this CD and enjoyed it fully. It’s definitely among the best – if not the best – albums from that part of Europe that I’ve ever heard. It’s just very good and I recommend it with all my honesty.
Standout tracks: “Unholy Rituals”, “I Am Hatred”

Final rate: 80/100

Kratherion - Mantra Lucifer Flagelantes

KRATHERION - Mantra Lucifer Flagelantes (OLD TEMPLE CD 2015)
Among all the releases from Old Temple, which I collected recently, this one is surely among my favourites. Damn, what a killer album, what a great surprise to hear such a devastating bestial death / black metal from Kratherion, who I only knew by name before playing this CD. I had read some interviews or reviews about this Chilean commando, but somehow never had a chance to hear their music, until “Mantra Lucifer Flagelantes” blew my speakers off. But quickly this shit excited me like crazy and now I can add another superb band to the list of Chilean unholy forces that are worth of your support. Well, this country is no bullshit, when speaking of extreme metal music.
What you get on “Mantra Lucifer Flagelantes” are 40 minutes of fuckin bestial devastation, of absolutely fierce, violent and morbid black / death metal. Some may call it war metal, some others will name it bestial metal… whatever, dude! It’s just damn awesome music. What I like about “Mantra Lucifer Flagelantes” is that Kratherion has the savagery and viciousness of the so called war metal, with all the typical stuff which the bands from this genre usually have. But they present it in more interesting form. Their music is not one dimensional, boring crap of primitiveness and mindlessness. It’s not pointless cacophony with utterly shitty sound. No. The production of “Mantra Lucifer Flagelantes” is simply good and solid. It is heavy, powerful sound, so it’s not just a wall of unbearable noise. And the songs are not just fast and fast again. They are more diverse, with some splendid slow parts and of course the blasting stuff is there as well. In some way, the whole stuff reminds me Embrace of Thorns, Impiety or Bestial Raids, with Spanish lyrics that give something extra to the whole sound, probably resembling such Morbosidad or Colombian Masacre.
I like the slow parts the most, because they sound so fuckin’ heavy, so crushing. Just give a listen to such “Death Kult Church Omega”, “Mantra Lucifer Flagelantes”  or “Agonia Dantesca y Macabra” and you’ll know why I like it so much. But of course their faster songs are also damn sweet. I like how relentless, how intense and fuckin violent and powerful Kratherion music sounds here and how they evoke this morbid, obscure atmosphere in it. Obviously this is not super technical music; the riffs or arrangements can be sometimes simple, but not primitive for sure. And definitely Kratherion has enough ideas to please all the maniacs of the most extreme of metal styles. So I can easily recommend this album to all extreme metal maniacs. It’s definitely a worthy piece of death kult and well, I can only start looking for some more Kratherion shit. It needs to be collected!
Standout tracks: “Death Kult Church Omega”, “Agonia Dantesca y Macabra”, “Mantra Lucifer Flagelantes”

Final rate: 75/100

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Hermodr - The Darkness of December

HERMODR - The Darkness of December (WOLFSPELL - CD 2016)
“The Darkness of December” is another album from Hermóðr, which I was playing intensively through the past few days. And I sincerely don’t know what else can I write about the music of Rafn, what I have not written already. This project is consequently walking its own path of depressive and sorrowful black metal and it looks like nothing will make it choose something different. And that’s good, because why change something if it works so damn well? I can call myself a fan of Hermóðr, some of the albums that I had a chance to hear were just stunning, “Då skogen var ung” being my absolute favourite, along such “What Once Was Beautiful” or split with Kalmankantaja. “The Darkness of December” is another great opus of the Hermóðr that I can recommend strongly, even though I can expect that some of you may have problems with Rafn’s music and its tendency to sound monotonous. It feels almost tiresome and over extensive when you realize that the whole albums is seventy minutes long and it’s seventy minutes of almost one dimensional, constantly slow and utterly melancholic music. My advice then, before you sit and play “The Darkness of December”, is to make sure you’re in a right mood for it. Otherwise it just won’t work for you and you’ll think of it as something way too boring. But if the mood is right, if the surrounding is properly set, then I am sure that music of Hermóðr will devour you with its dark, depressive aura, hypnotizing rhythm and so many enchanting melodies. Quite often it all sounds like clash of the opposites, when you hear raw sounding, minimalistic guitar parts with harsh, screaming vocals along the parts of keyboards that are present basically the whole time, and which sound like they were bringing light and harmony to the world of darkness and chaos.
So, it’s not an easy album, to be honest, even if the music may seem so. But it’s not easy to listen the whole “The Darkness of December” in one take, just as it’s not so obvious if any of the albums parts will really stay with you, when they all feel very similar. My personal impression is that maybe it’s the first time when I started to think that it’s a bit too much, a bit too long album… but on the other hand I like the music of Hermóðr so much that it’s not a major problem for me. This is why I’m not making a big deal with its supposed lack of variety of whatever. I won’t be surprised if you feel so, but as said before, you need to be in proper mood for this album.

Final rate: 70/100

Goholor - In Saeculis Obscuris

GOHOLOR - In Saeculis Obscuris (Schattenkult Produktionen CD 2016)
This week I was introduced to Schattenkult Produktionen, a German label, which has been around for few years and managed to unleash about seventy titles so far. Sadly I didn’t know any of them, but I was lucky to get some of their recent releases… and Goholor is the first CD, which I played from this small stack. This band is from Slovakia and “In Saeculis Obscuris” is their debut MCD, so it’s new band with two members, who also play in Dimonsium Chaotic.
And well, without any expectations or any guess as what this music can be like, now I know that this MCD is a good and solid start for Goholor. I certainly like their music, as it has a great aggressive style of death and black metal, glued a bit in the vein of such Belphegor, with a small dose of more brutal sounding Behemoth. It’s played with good balance between fast and mid paced tempos, with great furious, sharp riffs, evil atmosphere and with growling and harsh screaming vocals. As for technical aspect of Goholor music, I cannot say anything bad about it. Nice production, good performance from all band members, solid compositions… When listening to “In Saeculis Obscuris”, you can almost regret that it all ends so quickly, because four songs and 15 minutes of music showed some great potential that Goholor certainly has. Each song is very solid and interesting, “Obscurus Sacramentum” probably being my favourite piece here…
...and well, I don’t think anything more is need to be said here. If you enjoy aggressive, dark sounding death / black metal, but with relatively good production, not one which sounds like recorded in the fuckin bunker, then this should be a good offer for you. Check it out, also because it’s quite rare to hear as good band from Slovakia.
Standout track: “Obscurus Sacramentum”

Final rate: 75/100

Bestiality - Stuck in Bestial Vision

BESTIALITY - Stuck in Bestial Vision (OLD TEMPLE - CD 2014)
This band came out of nowhere, but turned out to be a big surprise and one of the best newcoming Polish bands I heard recently. Although “Stuck in Bestial Vision” is their second release – “Way of the Cross” being a proper debut, released in small CD quantity in 2014 – only now most of us have heard of Bestiality. And surely I can strongly recommend this band and this CD to all freaks of fuckin morbid thrashing black metal, as this is just killer stuff.
I am really positively surprised with everything what I can hear on “Stuck in Bestial Vision”. All these songs are great; very aggressive, vicious, evil and obscure. Bestiality comes with some fantastic riffs and their music is almost easily listenable, almost catchy thrash / death that can remind you bands like Nifelheim, Destroyer666, Hin Hale, Pest (Swedish, from their last two albums), Necrocurse, Slaughter Messiah and so on. Some of these songs may be almost silly with their simplicity and infantile choruses – like “Raped by the Devil” – but I still like them a lot, because they sound like good company for drunk metalheads, who want to scream some blasphemous lyrics and bang skulls maniacally to their favourite music haha! And seriously, I cannot think of anything that I can point out what has been done bad or what would annoy me. Of course Bestiality doesn’t come with anything spectacular, but their music sounds just super awesome, with songs like “Way of the Cross” (oh, I love how fast it is!!!) or “Ritual Genocide”. I like also the production a lot, because it’s damn energetic and fits this sort of music perfectly… and also the voice of Alberth Dust is super cool.
So, let me repeat again; Bestiality’s “Stuck in Bestial Vision” is awesome surprise and surely one of the better releases from this sort of music, in my opinion. I can hear passion and enthusiasm for the morbid metal from those guys, their music is soaked with aggression and evilness… and damn, I guess this is a band that will come up with some exceptional stuff in near the future.
Standout tracks: “Way of the Cross”, “Crucified”, “Ode to the Dead / Tales from the Crypt”

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 15 April 2016

Parh - Journey Through Wasteland

PARH - Journey Through Wasteland (Self released demo CD 2016)
No idea if any of you remembers my review of “Nihil”, debut demo of Polish band called Parh. Well, it’s been a while since I reviewed it and sadly I didn’t notice much noise around Parh, but personally I liked this release a lot, so I am happy to see them coming back with their second demo, “Journey Through Wasteland”, which is just as good as the first one! And I hope that more people will start to recognize them, because this is just good shit. Maybe it’s not shit for everyone, but for fuck sake, I bet that there are many followers of the Autopsy / Abscess cult, right? And these two bands are a sure comparison for me, when describing Parh music. It’s maybe not quite pure obscure doomy death metal – although it surely has (Swedish) death metal influences as well – and it’s just more sludgy and crusty, filthy stuff, but the influence and similarity (like for example the horrible (haha!) vomits of Szkielo, reminding Chris Reifert) are noticeable from the first second.
And well, there are just four songs on this demo, but I like them a lot. I don’t know why “Journey Through Wasteland” is so easily listenable and catchy, while being so nasty and disgusting haha?!!! Anyway, Parh is great. When “Hebephrenic Psychosis” starts, I always have a strong feeling like it’s something from very old Entombed or Dismember demos, because this song is soaked with Swedish death metal. Then “Jerusalem Syndrome” is more like the two A’s bands I mentioned above, with killer sludgy main riff and great terrifying atmosphere. And following two songs are also in this vein. I have to say that the whole performance and composition on “Journey Through Wasteland” is very good. Obviously you shouldn’t expect it to be very technical and ultra polished, as it’s just not that sort of stuff. But damn, each time I play Parh, it’s just great fun and kick in the ass for me. Sure, it’s nothing revolutionary or outstanding, but just damn good, in my opinion.
Standout tracks: “Hebephrenic Psychosis”, “Kvlt of Fear”

Final rate: 80/100

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Hermóðr - Då skogen var ung

Hermóðr - Då skogen var ung (WOLFSPELL Records CD 2016)
Here’s Hermóðr again, ladies and gentlemen! This time Wolfspell released an album called “Då skogen var ung”, which is sort of compilation with some unreleased 2015 songs plus stuff that was released as so called digital singles (what??) previously, called “Himlen morknar” and “The Scent of Autumn”. And they’re both from 2015 also, so you may remember that Rafn is restless soul, who does nothing else, but play, compose and record music haha. Anyway, this is always fantastic feeling to hear more stuff from Hermóðr and I can say that “Då skogen var ung” is simply amazing release. Even the fact that this album is very long, with some tracks that are 15 minutes long (and “The Scent of Autumn” is 20 minutes long), does not bother me. Because the whole feeling and atmosphere of “Då skogen var ung” is captivating and impossible to resist.
I think that describing each new Hermóðr release becomes quite boring, because I repeat myself each time I review this project haha. Rafn doesn’t change his writing style and obviously Hermóðr will always be a great example for nostalgic, melancholic and sorrowful doomy black metal. This is slow, maybe slightly monotonous stuff, but its atmospheres devours you completely, especially if it comes along with some great melodies or riffs and with just catchy, easily listenable compositions. Obviously with such long songs, the feeling is close to when listening to instrumental music, because the vocals are quite sporadic and you won’t even feel like they has to be there. And that’s because the music speaks of itself and alone paints the pictures of desolate, cold but beautiful nature perfectly. It’s almost charming and beautiful, with these sorrowful melodies and leads, even though the harsh and eerie black metal similar to such Burzum is there as well.
For me personally, it’s perfectly balanced and performed music. I don’t even mind the length of the whole CD and the fact that after a while you have no idea if it’s the same song or next one. It’s one of the very few examples when monotony is not working against the music, but becomes something that will hypnotize you. More so, I can easily say that these are some of the best songs I heard from Hermóðr so far. I definitely like them more than the (still solid) tracks that appeared on splits with Kalmankantaja and Is. Rafn’s music is surely getting better and better, somehow he manages to keep the high quality with each next release and still has enough ideas for it, despite such high recording frequency. And that’s good. This year we also got his newest full length “The Darkness of December”, which I will review soon and I’m sure it’s gonna be another great release of Hermóðr.

Final rate: 80/100