Saturday, 24 October 2020

Carbonized - For the Security

CARBONIZED - For the Security (THRASH Records - LP 1991)

Carbonized's "For the Security" has never been the most influential among the Swedish death metal albums from the early 90's. It is even slightly forgotten nowadays. But for me personally, it was one of the favourite records at the time, when as a kid I was discovering all these new death metal bands. I had a Polish bootleg cassette, which I really played intensely through the years. Carbonized had everything to get attention. They had some great demos and 7"EP (I didn’t know them back then, I do admit that), and Matti Karki did vocals for them! But Carbonized was mainly Lars Rosenberg's (Entombed) project and for "For the Security" he was joined by Piotr Wawrzeniuk and Christofer Johnsson, both from Therion. Well, Therion also belonged to my favourites back then haha. 

Line up and well known musicians aside, but another important reason why "For the Security" should get your attention is the music, as it's one of the most original and weird death metal releases from Sweden. As such, I could put it aside to such Pan-Thy-Monium, Afflicted or Therion, speaking of the unique and often progressive death metal. On one hand you'll hear here plenty of traditional death metal, with its brutality and heaviness. There's also a bit of insane grind core, full of rage, mad fast tempos and furious screams, which all erupt with huge energy. But here and there you will find almost jazz or psychedelic patterns, some weird ideas and arrangements that normally would not find its place on the extreme metal record. They sound bizarre, almost like someone was making a joke, as one minute you hear a pure death metal riff and next there's a twisted and uncanny piece that can make your eyebrow go up... There’re many surprising fragments, you could think that some of it doesn’t just fit together and someone made a mistake and took a song from a different band, but somehow there’s a method in this insanity. 

And with Christofer's screams over the music, the result is as interesting as it is mad. And as always with such musical experiments, there will be people, who will loath it and those, who will love it. For me, this bastard child of death metal, grindcore, Voivod and fuck knows what else, sounds absolutely brilliant. I love the production from Sunlight Studio, I love the intensity and energy of this music. And there are just many awesome riffs that kick ass brutally. Sometimes it’s close to the edge of insanity, “Third Eye” can be a good example here. Next on the list, “Purified (From the Sulfer)”, is another song that runs away from the death metal standards as much as it only can, delivering extreme forms of psycho-grinding avantgarde right in your face. But it works and I think that “For the Security” is a great album. Weird, but just great. Sadly, I simply hate the other two Carbonized albums, they are unlistenable and annoying. They are crap. But I still love the debut as well as the demos and 7”EP 

Standout tracks: “Monument”, “Recarbonized”, “Blinded of the Veil”, “Reflections of the Dark” 

Verdict: 85/100

Interment - Where Death Will Increase 1991-1994

INTERMENT - Where Death Will Increase 1991-1994 (NECROHARMONIC - CD 2010)

They seem overlooked by many, but for me Interment belongs to the very best Swedish death metal bands. Their beginnings are in the early 90’s, when three truly killer demos were released. Sadly, Interment split up in 1994, which is probably why they seem so underrated now. But the band came back from the dead in 2002 and did so in great form, releasing awesome albums and few splits. 

But going back to the early 90's, these three demos which Interment did then belong to my all time favourites. They are all absolutely fantastic and for me they are just as good as a lot of the recordings from more recognised acts from that era. And if you want to find out yourself what these demos are like, "Where Death Will Increase 1991-1994" is where you should look for. This CD (LP also) has all the 90's recordings from Interment, so it's a perfect opportunity to listen to some great Swedish death metal. 

"Where Death Will Increase" from 1991 was the first demo from Interment. There are three songs, recorded at the famous Sunlight Studio. 1992's "Forward to the Unknown" and 1994's "The Final Chapter" were on the other hand recorded with Dan Swano in his Gorysound Studio. Well, musically this is straight forward, traditional Svensk DödsMetall. You could easily put it next to Dismember, Entombed, Centinex, Nirvana 2002, Carnage, Uncanny, God Macabre and so on... They are all amazing bands and Interment would be no pussies in that company. Their music was brutal, vicious, it was dark and savage, yet there's plenty of more melodic or slower parts to get an interesting and enjoyable result. Even though it was nothing new or revolutionary for their native scene and you could admit that Interment were just doing what Swedish death metal scene was most famous for, it doesn't mean their stuff was any less exciting.  

Especially the first demo is a real highlight for me personally. Partly because I always preferred the Sunlight sound over Swano's. But also because these three earliest tracks sound the most aggressive and harsh, most uncompromising and fastest. Especially “Infestering Flesh” kills. I love the riffs, vocals, that dark, evil vibe and everything else. Which is also why "The Final Chapter" is my least favourite demo, as it lacks a bit of really good vibe, you could feel like the band wasn’t emotionally there anymore. It is still a great demo, don't get me wrong, but Interment used to be better! It lost that spark and feeling, which characterized the band in their earlier recordings. 

While listening to the CD, it is mandatory to check fantastic booklet, where you could find a lot of old photos, graphics, lyrics, some liner notes. This is exactly how I like such demo compilations to look like and Necroharmonic belongs to those labels, which are doing it right. Check similar releases from them of bands like Crematory, Gorephilia, Mastication, ExmortisRottrevore, Phlegm... they are all godly and fantastic demo compilations with a lot information and full musical content on all these bands. I recommend them all, as well as "Where Death Will Increase 1991-1994" obviously. Someone could say that it’s a shame that Interment split up in 1994. But they lost interest in this band and all and members played in some other projects, so I guess it was better to end something if the motivation was not there. I am glad though that Interment came back, as all their 2000’s recordings are brilliant. Top band. 

Verdict: 90/100

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Gatecreeper - Sonoran Depravation

GATECREEPER - Sonoran Depravation (RELAPSE Records - LP 2018)

Some of you may think that the whole existence of 387th band, which does sound like Entombed or Swedish death metal in general is simply pointless and boring. Well, you have right to think so, sure. But think twice before you cross off bands like Gatecreeper and especially if you do so before giving them even a small attention and at least one listen. The thing is, there are many bands, which play this sort of death metal nowadays - some are better, some are worse. Hardly any of them discovers anything new, but I personally don't expect them to do so. What I want to hear is killer, crushing and fierce death metal in my most favourite style. And here comes Gatecreeper from Arizona (Sick!) and this band simply fuckin kills. 

I'm not gonna go much into details what the music on "Sonoran Depravation" is like. There's not even much point to do that, as it's enough to say that it is an old school death metal in the vein of Entombed, Dismember, Carnage, Bloodbath, Grave, etc. If you dig this style of music, you will love this album. Gatecreeper rivals the best in the contest for the catchiest and most fun Swedish riffs ever. Really every song is filled with that shit that hits my head like crazy and makes a bloody mess with my brain. All their songs are memorable, but they are also aggressive and vicious, while the production is properly clean, yet very powerful. It's one of those albums that are impossible to be played quietly. You just want to turn the volume up and let all your neighbours feel this noise! Gatecreeper comes with crushing riffs, some melodic parts, everything sounds like a perfect soundtrack to the mosh pit... It really is an album, which hooked me in from the very first listen. And that fuckin vinyl won't leave my turntable for a whole week! 

Grreeeeaaattt! If I had anything to complain about at all, then I may say that I am not the biggest fun of this sort of screaming vocals, which Chase H. Mason uses. I am a fan of more traditional growls, rather than screaming vocals (alike to Tompa for instance). But as you could notice, they do not disturb me so much anyway and I like the final effect a lot. "Sonoran Depravation" is just a great record and another example for how strong and impressive young US death metal scene is nowadays, with such a shitload of killer bands. Gatecreeper belongs to my favourites, yes! 

Standout tracks: "Craving Flesh", "Rotting as One", “Stronghold”, “Lost Forever” 

Verdict: 80/100  

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Morbid Angel - Kingdoms Disdained

MORBID ANGEL - Kingdoms Disdained (SILVER LINING MUSIC - CD 2017)

Morbid Angel are the band, which recorded the best death metals album of all time, which in my opinion are both "Altars of Madness" and "Blessed Are the Sick". These two amazing records are perfect in every way and even though I love also many other death metal classics, these two albums reign on the throne supreme. That takes us to 2011 and the failure, which was titled "Illud Divinum Insanus". Such a disappointment, such an unexpected hitting of the bottom of misery - it's an album, which should never happen for this band. Already "Heretic" was mediocre, but when compared to “Illud...” it sounds way better anyway. Few years later David Vincent leaves Morbid Angel. Well, in his early days he was the best death metal voice for me, I loved what he did until the "Covenant" LP. Later his voice was getting weaker and weaker, lost its depth and strength. Steve Tucker comes back to the band and that's the best choice Morbid Angel could have done really, as both albums Morbid did with him earlier on were very, very good. And in 2017 "Kingdoms Disdained" comes.  

Well, in the beginning I felt again let down by it. I wasn't much convinced by these new songs and the production I felt was horrible. I was happy that Morbid Angel came back to the pure death metal record, without all these useless and crappy experiments with industrial. But it had to take some time, until "Kingdoms Disdained" really clicked for me. I still think that the production is not that good, but you could get used to it. Songwriting on the other hand is fairly good for the Morbid Angel standards and even if "Kingdoms Disdained" will never belong to my top three albums of this band, it isn't that bad at all. Actually, 99% of all death metal bands would love to get that quality and perfection in their songwriting 

Musically "Kingdoms Disdained" is a classic Morbid Angel. Right from the first seconds you will get hit by these beautiful riffs of Trey Azagthoth, which are so characteristic and so much worshiped by the fans. I always loved how fierce and vicious they sound, sometimes getting almost a mesmerizing feel, while remaining aggressive and brutal. Songs on "Kingdoms Disdained" are some of the most brutal and often fastest from Morbid Angel ever and they really break necks with ferocity and mightiness. Such "The Righteous Voice" or "Garden of Disdain" are spot on for me and exactly what I wish to hear from this band more often. Someone could say that they play a safe game and follow what people really want to hear from them. Yes, they do and that's good, I have enough of experimental or mediocre Morbid Angel albums. "Kingdoms Disdained" will never get the same status as "Blessed Are the Sick", but I think it has a rightful place in this band's catalogue and its quality matched such "Gateways to Annihilation" easily. I need to say also that I like Steve Tucker's work here, his vocals are great, they sound way, way better than Vincent did for many recent years. The fact that there's no Pete Sandoval in the band anymore also isn't a problem for me, because Scotty Fuller's drumming is great, it's tight, fast, precise... Very, very good. 

I did mention that it had to take me a while, before I really started to appreciate this album. I had to get used to the production of this album, maybe I was also too sceptical and negative for Morbid Angel in general, all because of what was going on within this band in past decade. But now I can only admit that "Kingdoms Disdained" is a great album and there's absolutely nothing wrong with it. It has everything I love Morbid Angel for, so nowadays it appears in my stereo quite often. 

Standout tracks: "The Righteous Voice", "Garden of Disdain", “For No Master” 

Verdict: 80/100

Mallephyr - Assailing the Holy

MALLEPHYR - Assailing the Holy (MAD LION - CD 2016)

I am very pleasantly surprised by this album, because I did not expect that Mallephyr - which I have quite rightly heard nothing about so far – would present anything what would be worth of more attention. Meanwhile, what these Czechs recorded on their debut album "Assailing the Holy" is a very decent and solid piece of death / black metal, which surprises with the level of composition, performance and strong production. While listening to "Assailing..." I have the impression that I am listening to rather old folks, because everything sounds mature and there is no way that you can describe this music with words like lame or underdeveloped.  

It is not a long album - it only lasts 35 minutes. And that's good, because this is enough to show your worth and also crush the listener with the intensity of your music. And Mallephyr do not waste time. For example, such "The Service" or the title song with its energy and aggression should move even a deceased. And there are more similar, almost furious moments on "Assailing the Holy". Mallephyr music is not limited to one type of playing, however, there are many changes in tempos, from furious blasts to slow, melodious and almost melancholic parts. You can also hear quite a lot of death metal influences in this whole black metal skeleton, sometimes a bit like Behemoth from their middle period of activity (between albums "Pandemonic Incantations" and say "Demigod")... What does matter is that Mallephyr's music sounds fresh and strong and that these young gentlemen managed to compose interesting material that stands out above the average. Let the track "Anti-Human" prove it - probably my favourite on the whole album and at the same time the longest of the whole set. There is a lot going on in this track, it starts with a furious black metal attack, but after a while the pace drops sharply and the mood becomes a bit darker and monumental, in places even calm. What a great riffage there is!  

However, there are more similar "moments" on the entire disc, so being on the nth listening session of "Assailing the Holy" I think that Mallephyr cannot really fault much. It is not an outstanding album, because it cannot be like that. It is not the first league of death and black metal, but there is something about these sounds that makes the listening to this CD an undisguised pleasure. So, I recommend this album to you without hesitation. Great stuff. 

Standout tracks: “Anti-Human”, “The Service” 

Verdict: 75/100