Friday, 29 June 2012

Banished From Inferno - Minotaur

I’m familiar with Banished From Inferno already for some time, as there was time, when I was digging through every project, which Rogga Johansson has contributed in and this master of guttural vocals and guitar death metal slaughter has been involved in Banished From Inferno’s self titled debut MCD back in 2008, but to be honest, I didn’t like this material so much. Anyway, Rogga is not in the band anymore, but when I thought that Banished From Inferno has split up, I’ve found the news about the release of “Minotaur”, which is the debut full length album of the band. At the present the line up consist of the Spanish metalheads only (did I mention that only Rogga was Swedish while the rest of the musicians were from Spain? No? Ok, I do so now then…) and I know some of the bands they’re also involved like Godus, Machetazo, Human Mincer, Scent of Death or Balmog – they’re all fine underground black, death or grind core bands. But after the boring debut MCD I didn’t expect much from “Minotaur”, luckily then Banished From Inferno proved me wrong, as the album is really cool.
Musically “Minotaur” did not surprise me so much; it is exactly as I thought it will be. Banished From Inferno slaughters the old school Swedish death metal, but of course that won’t surprise or make anyone crazy anymore, as there are dozens of such bands at the time (already in Spain we have also Graveyard, Unconsecrated, Mass Burial and Morbid Flesh!) and such music became just too explored recently. But that doesn’t mean that Banished From Inferno sucks, because personally I actually liked “Minotaur”. Who cares if the music isn’t much original or whatever, as long as it kicks ass? Those Spaniards aren’t pussies, they know what to do to kill with the sound and luckily they managed to compose some decent, catchy death metal tunes, which instantly force into the maniacal headbanging and fist throwing. And I cannot say anything bad about it. I like the groove and rhythmic these songs have, the dynamics of these songs, that they’re sometimes fast, but often rather mid paced… in the final parts it even gets more harmonious and melodic, especially in „Twilight Grotesque” and the epic „Sorrows of the Earth”, which ends the album – these two tracks will catch your attention with more atmospheric approach (and the use of keyboards!). Anyway, the whole music of Banished From Inferno can remind you the likes of Facebreaker, Ribspreader, Intestinal, Interment, plus it also reminds me a lot some of the newer things, which Kam Lee does, like The Grotesquery and The Skeletal, which is also very cool. Banished From Inferno is really cool, if you ask me, I liked “Minotaur” quite much, even the closing cover of Hellhammer, which appears after a short silence was a real surprise (especially that the booklet doesn’t mention “Messiah” in the tracklist). Spaniards played this song in more epic and almost bombastic way, with keyboards, which underline the atmosphere of it, so it does sounds just damn cool.
Standout tracks: "Praise the Rotten Dead", "Twilight Grotesque", "Minotaur"
Final rate: 75/100

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Necrovation - Necrovation

NECROVATION - Necrovation (AGONIA Records - LP 2012)
There was a long silence in the Necrovation camp after this Swedish band released their debut album, “Breed Deadness Blood” back in 2008. I don’t really know what caused this pause, but the truth is that the only sign of life, which Necrovation gave in the time between 2008 and 2012 was when they unleashed a 7”EP “Gloria Mundus” in 2010. I guess not many of you will even know Necrovation – and their first album, not to mention the demo or early EPs, but that’s what usually happen if the band lacks a decent promotion and appears very randomly in the metal press, etc. Hopefully now the band will make you bow your heads, since they joined a good label, which I hope will take them slightly further than Blood Harvest did.
Anyway, I was quite exited once I’ve found out that Agonia Records is about to release the second album of Necrovation. Knowing how great usually is the work of this label, as well as how much they care about each detail of their releases – plus also the fact that I can expect a vinyl version – made me happy and so I putted my preorder as soon as I could. And finally I got the LP! I didn’t go for the 100 copies limited heavy blue with white haze vinyl, I didn’t really care about it and got the black LP. Well, the design, whole layout of it – just as I’ve expected – is excellent. Necrovation went for a different type of artwork for their second album and instead of the gory, zombie type of drawings, which seem to prevail nowadays among the old styled death metal bands, they chosen something more dark and gloomy, with an excellent eerie landscape of stormy waves. The LP comes with a small booklet, with some additional pictures, hand written lyrics and the whole stylised for an old document or something like that, what also looks really well. All in all, the layout is similar to Stench’s “In Putrescence” LP, so if you liked that one, you’ll also like the packaging, in which “Necrovation” comes.
Of course – even though very important – the layout is second to the music. The sound will always be the most important and knowing the previous Necrovation releases, I was expecting something truly killer. And well… I must admit that after the first couple of listens I was kind of surprised. The band really developed a lot since “Breed Deadness Blood”, to an extent that they almost seem like a different band. Don’t worry, it still is old styled death metal, pretty much deepened in the Swedish school, but somehow “Necrovation” differs from the first album. While keeping the music as dark and obscure as possible, Necrovation played the new songs less chaotically, the whole is much less raw and aggressive than the furious attack of the debut LP. I have the feeling like Necrovation has extended their influences and so now it’s not limited just to Merciless / Nihilist / Autopsy, but into a wider range of bands and even styles. The guitars’ playing and their arrangements have changed most noticeably, it’s more melodic in many parts, more tempered, without so many (if any) chaotically furious parts and with more leads, etc. At times the music sounds very surprising, almost melancholically calm, instead of going into the full death metal blast Necrovation “experiments” with weird riffs, which sound quite disturbing at times… Just listen to “Dark Lead Dead”. I don’t really know how to take this song. In the beginning it’s pretty much like some Entombed from “Serpent Saints”, but then in the second part the song makes a huge transition into something fuckin’ weird. It calms down, slows down and sounds like a stoned doom heavy metal, closer to bands like Ghost, especially in its atmosphere, rather than to Nihilist. What is it - a psychedelic old school death metal or something? And what about “The Transition” and its soft, melancholic melodic leads and the fact that the whole song has almost nothing to do with death metal? At other times I feel like Necrovation incorporated some black metal influences as well, from bands like Deathspell Omega or Watain, in “Sepulchreal” for instance, which by the way is also a song, which stack with me most from the whole set.
So, definitely the music has surprised me, with the way Necrovation arranged it, with so many riffs, solos and patterns they’ve used. “Pulse of Towering Madness” is another example for that. With all that though I have a feeling like the music has lost some of its uncompromising aggression, which I liked so much on the demo or “Breed Deadness Blood”. Even when in such songs like “Commander of Remains” and “New Depths” Necrovation fastens up and puts some blasts, they still sound relatively mellow and not brutal. Hmm, maybe it’s due to the production? Its values are definitely big, as the album sounds truly well and clean, but at the same time it has kept the vibe of analogue recording and even live playing.
I don’t know how to rate the album. After listening to it several times, I’m still torn between pissing on it and praising for some of the most courageous and extravagant old school death metal. It takes time to get used to it, but I can’t really say that I like it as much as I did the debut LP. Of course there’s no doubt that Necrovation has found their niche and it’s probably always better to play something own and original than to repeat what others have done dozens of times before you. But I just really miss some ferocity and speed on “Necrovation”, something what would make the whole album more dynamic, because often I feel not fully impressed or sometimes even bored by it. They should have balanced all these things differently, not letting one to dominate the other. And thus I cannot make a decisive opinion yet, even though I’ve been listening to this LP a lot in the past week I’m still in the phase of getting used to it… Maybe one day I’ll like it more, or maybe I’ll hate it more. At the moment all I can say is that I feel slightly disappointed by “Necrovation”, I have expected something different… This is solid album, generally I like it, but it’s just not as killer as it should have been.
Standout tracks: “Sepulchreal”, “Necrovorus Insurrection”, “Pulse of Towering Madness”
Final rate: 70/100

Monday, 25 June 2012

Necrovation - Breed Deadness Blood

NECROVATION - Breed Deadness Blood (BLOOD HARVEST - LP 2009)
“…Venomous, graceless essence, spawned by the absence of life…”
Seeing the currently happening resurrection of the Swedish sounding death metal which gave birth to so many new bands, but also made some older ones come back from the grave, it makes me proud and happy that I was a fan of this style for years and never felt bored by it, despite how popular or unpopular it was. If there was just Dismember left, when they recorded their “Death Metal” album, then it was OK for me. If Grave came back and Unleashed also, then it was fine for me too. And of course there were also Fleshcrawl, Centinex, Horrid and Vomitory. This is how many classically sounding, but not necessarily from Sweden, bands there were back then. But at the same time I was always looking for some new bands, which would add some freshness into the airless, filthy catacombs of Swedish death metal. And that came, when I discovered Repugnant back in the early 00’s. And soon after I got the “Curse of Aeons” demo from Kaamos in 2002, an LP and EP from Verminous and finally also “Ovations to Putrefaction” demo from Necrovation in 2004. Necrovation was an entity, which truly crushed me, I loved everything about their demo – the music, fact that it was released on tape (nowadays the tape also came back into the scene and more demos have been released on cassette in the past two years than in the whole decade!), the t-shirt which I made the trade for with the band… Yeah, I also did an interview with Necrovation around that time. Fuckin cool it was. Nowadays there are many bands, which are similar to Necrovation, some may be even better, but I still feel sort of nostalgia and have more special feelings towards this band. They clearly didn’t go with the stream, but played something they just worshipped and that counts twice (especially when comparing to what’s going on nowadays, when it’s so easy to come up with new old school band and get the recognition in the scene, even if you don’t really play the best metal ever!).
Following the mentioned “Ovations…” demo as well as a couple of 7”EPs, the time came when Necrovation unleashed their debut full length album, “Breed Deadness Blood”. With nine tracks on it (and only one, which was previously recorded on the demo), you can be sure there’s enough material this time to break your neck and cause some serious bloodshed. From the very first song it is pretty clear that Necrovation is not your average cut’n’paste the Dismember / Entombed riffs sort of band. No, actually in my opinion Necrovation is not really similar to those two legendary bands so much and if there are any Swedish death metal acts they may be taking the influences from, then they would probably be the early Nihilist, Grotesque, Merciless from “The Awakening” LP and maybe a slight hint of Carnage… but all soaked in Autopsy’s gore and filth with some additional “Abominations of Desolation” resemblances as well. Necrovation recaptures the feeling from the ancient death metal albums or demos in excellent way and I must admit that right from the opening song, “Dead Faith’s Purulence”, I worship their music.
Unlike many of their countrymen, Necrovation do not really tries to play too many of those more harmonious parts, concentrating rather on old school death metal mayhem and as such they do remind me what Verminous has done on their killer LP, “Impious Sacrilege”. Of course there may happen few slightly more melodic and catchy riffs (there’s one infectious melody in “Dead Faith’s Purulence” for instance), but they happen rather occasionally and so most of the “Breed Deadness Blood” is as putrid and ferocious as this sort of archaic death metal can only get. And thus it will constantly be crushing you with razor sharp riffs, chaotic guitar leads, vomiting vocals and pounding drums of doom. Necrovation shows the power of riffs and how important it is to create a specific, obscure atmosphere in this type of music. Old school death metal would sound not even half as great if it wasn’t creating such a dark mood and also if the production wasn’t so organic, raw, but not too primitive… and definitely not overproduced. On “Breed Deadness Blood” I have a feeling like all the right boxes were ticked and Necrovation brought all the best ingredients into one, damn deadly piece of death metal. There’s really absolutely NOTHING what I would desire to be done differently or what would be missing. If you want it to be fast and relentless, then there will be plenty of material, which will please you to… death (man, at few fast parts the music speeds up so much that it even has resemblances to the early Carcass!)! And if you like it to be more mid paced playing, much more into the origin of the Swedish old school death metal and Nihilist, then the title song as well as few other like “Seal the Gates” will be a thing for you. All in all, Necrovation did an awesome job here and “Breed Deadness Blood” is just a superb album. So, if you’re done with the archaeological excavation and know all the old bands, but still want to get to know some newer ones, which would be playing in similar way, then definitely Necrovation is one of the finest offers for you in my opinion.
Standout tracks: “Dead Faith's Purulence”, “Putrid Evocation”, “Death Salvation”, “Breed Deadness Blood”
Final rate: 90/100

Anatomia / Burial Invocation - Decomposing Serenades

ANATOMIA / BURIAL INVOCATION - Decomposing Serenades (Split 7"EP DARK DESCENT Records)
I sincerely regret that I never had a chance to listen to any of the recordings, which both Japanese Anatomia and Turkey’s Burial Invocation have unleashed prior to this split 7”EP. In case of Burial Invocation it’s just one MCD, “Rituals of the Grotesque”, so I already ordered myself a copy of it, but Anatomia has quite a large number of different recordings, which those Japanese masters of death / doom have done, so it will take some more time to get at least few of them, like the full length “Dissected Humanity” or split EP with Absconder (a new band of Brad Budlak from legendary US death metal band Morgue!). Anyway, recently I got one time opportunity to purchase “Decomposing Serenades”, which is a split seven inch between Anatomia and Burial Invocation and I must admit that I took the chance and purchased it, despite having just a small knowledge about each of these two bands. And I don’t regret it now as both turned out to be just awesome and worthy.
Kicking off with Burial Invocation, the first riff made me think of Black Sabbath played by the Swedish death metal band back in the early 90’s. But that riff was only an intro, as soon it turns into massive Incantation worshipping beast of old styled death metal, which in few occasions blends with the Swedish style. And being a fan of both US doom death masters and the Svensk Dods Metal, to hear a bastard son of the two styles is like a wet dream for me. Burial Invocation really crushes here; the riffing is excellent, their crushing heaviness and some more melodic parts are just possessing, so are those deep, guttural vocals of Mustafa and also the obscure, heavy production, with killer guitar tone do not leave me careless. This band is excellent and I can’t wait to get “Rituals of the Grotesque” finally!
For anything that comes from the Japanese territories I always feel sceptic. The food? Well, sushi is not really my thing. Sake? Fuck it, straight vodka or whisky are much better. Horrors? Too weird for me. And music? Well, I cannot say that there are many bands, which I would like. I’ve never been into Sigh, Abigail or Sabbat. Or Transgressor… And I mention Transgressor, because I’ve found out that Anatomia is a new incarnation of two fellows, who used to desecrate in Transgressor back in the early 90’s. And I must admit that Anatomia is probably the best thing that came from Japan, together with Sony, Hondas and Toyotas! This one song, “Drawn Into the Abyss”, is just awesome. The production isn’t maybe as heavy and brutal as on the Burial Invocation’s side, but the music is really good. Again the first riff is sort of doomy death metal, it’s like Autopsy started to play some Black Sabbath with Winter and Incantation! Very slow, creepy riff, very obscure, ghastly and sinister atmosphere… this is what I love about it! And the vocals are just sick; deep, guttural, monstrous growling (no idea who’s singing there though, as all three Anatomia members handle the vocals). In the mid part the song speeds up a bit, but it remains the heavy, brutal feeling, what I like a lot! I’m really impressed by Anatomia and cannot recommend it to you enough. If you’re into ghoulish, morbid doom death metal, you must hear it, as well as Burial Invocation of corpse!
Final rate: 90/100

Fragment - The Misotheist Portrayal

FRAGMENT - The Misotheist Portrayal (Self released - demo CDR 2012)
Fragment is one of the newer bands, which I’ve found in the extreme metal catacombs. And I must say that I’m quite happy about it, as this British four piece is yet another proof that the UK scene is in the best condition ever since the early 90’s. Fragment is actually a complete newcomer, being formed only in 2009, in Oxford, and having only one demo in their offer at the moment, which is the 2012’s “The Misotheist Portrayal”.
When reading the info sheet, which I got together with “The Misotheist Portrayal” I discovered that Fragment cites for their influences such bands as Napalm Death, Monolith Deathcult, Watain, Gojira and Opeth… Man! They couldn’t pick up more varied bunch of bands, really. They’re all so different to each other than I thought if they’ll combine the styles of each of these bands, then the music will be somehow weird… You know, grinding beats of Napalm Death mixed with black metal violence of Watain and some progressive metal of Opeth? He, that would be like eating roasted pork with strawberry ice cream, and gherkins hehe! First listen of “The Misotheist Portrayal” wipes all my anxieties out, as there’s really no sign of most of the bands, which Fragment mentions in the info sheer, in their music. You know, liking a certain band, even thinking that they’re an influence for you not necessarily must mean that you copy their riffs and style, right? Good then! But what is “The Misotheist Portrayal” like in that case?
The music is actually pretty intriguing and surprising in many parts, it is also quite difficult to label with just one word. Well, to be as simple as it’s possible, I would just call the music from this demo as an extreme metal, but that will not say much to you, right? It definitely does combine the styles of death metal and black, sure, but that doesn’t mean that there’re some Watain riffs… which is fine, if you ask me. “I’ll Watch You Rot” is a song, which has slightly black metal riffing. There definitely is a blackened feeling in this song, although you must know that this track is fully played in mid paced tempo rather than with the Marduk ultra fast pace. In that aspect “Stygian Abyss” is more diverse, not just tempo wise, but also with the riffs, which do vary in styles and manner through these seven minutes a lot. There are, I think, some similarities to such bands as Belphegor, but the result is really fine. And “Two Thousand Years of Pain” offers more progressive parts (but not so progrock as Opeth), in one particular fragment especially (which starts at the fourth minute), when the riffing and arrangements may tend to get close to what Gojira is sometimes doing. Also the opening theme belongs to those more harmonious and blackened parts of the whole demo, so the swaps between the styles are quite noticeable. I must say though that I feel that “Two Thousand Years of Pain” should get slightly more ferocious after a while, as in seven minutes of one dimensional pace it gets slightly boring when close to the end.
So, after listening to “The Misotheist Portrayal” several times, I can say that I’m quite happy with the demo. Fragment plays some solid and good material, they do know how to put some decent songs together and definitely show a potential for the future. If I only could wish something more from it, then I must say that I don’t feel like those sounds really crushed my head completely. The musical rhino, which sometimes destroys my room, when I listen to similar sort of blackened death metal, didn’t show up this time and so I, as well as that room, remain intact. I would expect some more brutality, aggression and energy from Fragment in the future; maybe some faster parts as well. It may be a fault of very clean production really, which could have been more powerful, although it doesn’t mean that the sound is bad or whatever (it just could be more powerful, as I said). We’ll see what will the future hold for Fragment. Definitely “The Misotheist Portrayal” is a good start for them, I liked what I’ve heard, so I’m happy to have this demo in my collection and can definitely recommend it to the underground metal maniacs!
Final rate: 69/100,