Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Facebreaker - Zombie God

I’ve been waiting for this new 7”EP from Facebreaker for few months, ever since I’ve read info about it on the band’s facebook. I knew straight away that I’ll have to get myself a copy of that, as I really, really liked all three full length albums, which Facebreaker have unleashed so far and every new release from them had to be in my collection also. “Zombie God” came just recently, but it already belongs to my favourite EPs in the collection. I mean just look at that awesome artwork by Mark Riddick. It just looks fuckin awesome! I love it and it fits the title so well that I cannot imagine anything better than this. “Hidden from this world above, for centuries unknown… The commander of the decomposed will restore its throne!!!” .But it is just a cover, the music is even better than that!
Three full length albums behind their belts and Facebreaker is already well established and experienced band and one should know exactly what to expect from their music. I mean this definitely is one of the best currently active Swedish death metal bands and such LPs as “Infected” are something what should be in the collection of every die hard maniac of this sort of playing. “Zombie God” with two new, exclusive songs only proves the worth of the band… and well, when I listen to such excellent anthem as “Legions of Doom” I can only bang my head and enjoy that energy, with which this song erupts, as it really is enormous and great. The title song from the other hand is a little bit different, it is quite slow, almost doomy and in many ways it sounds like a combination of the classic Swedish death metal sound with good, old Autopsy feeling. So, imagine this utterly dark and rotten atmosphere of this song… Arrghh, I love it, it is even better than “Legions of Doom”!!! Every time I listen to this track I cannot stop myself and I scream with Robban “Zooombbieee Gooooddd!!!!!”. So fuckin excellent piece of death metal!!!!!!!
It’s quite funny thing with many of those new death metal bands. Hardly of any of them we can say that are original and groundbreaking, but still I personally loved so many recently released LPs, EPs or demos, as they are just good musically. I never liked that saying: “why would I listen to Dead Congregation, if I have Incantation?” and it fits bands like Facebreaker also. This band doesn’t play anything original, but their music is full of passion, great energy and killer riffs and these are things, which I look for in death metal in the first place. And with that in my mind I must say that “Zombie God” is a classic 7”EP. There are absolutely fantastic songs, so I love this single a lot and I really mean that Facebreaker did a perfect job with it. I cannot stop listening to it and do so quite frequently… And that’s why I just must recommend this stuff to everybody. It’s a must to have, so you must be quick, as the limited quantity of 666 copies may not be enough for everyone. Now I’m waiting for the new album from this killer Swedish band!
Final rate: 95/100

Doombringer / Goat Tyrant - The Darkside's Calling Into the Crypts of Oblivion

DOOMBRINGER / GOAT TYRANR - The Darkside's Calling Into the Crypts of Oblivion (GRAVE RITUAL Prod - Split 7"EP 2012)
“…Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful…” Bleeeeeeeeeeeeeeergghhh! Sorry, I just puked, because it’s time for another so called fuckin shitmass and everywhere I go I can hear all those stupid carols or another crap and I see people running in frenzy for their shitmass gifts, etc. If you feel the hatred for all that then maybe some appropriately obscure and odious death metal will cheer you up hehe? Something what would really be a feast for your soul and fire your hatred? “The Darkside's Calling Into the Crypts of Oblivion” is my recommendation for tonight; a killer split release of two Polish bands: Doombringer and Goat Tyrant.
Doombringer was the main reason why I decided to purchase this spit 7”EP. Once I’ve listened to the previous release of this band, which was the single titled “Sevenfold Pestilence” I felt like this is one of the most obscure and morbid, promising Polish death / black metal bands and one, which easily can compete with such European and well established hordes as Grave Miasma, Teitanblood or Necros Christos. I completed my collection of Doombringer releases with the “Ancient Abominations” demo compilation CD and now also with this split with Goat Tyrant. And the song, which Doombringer has prepared for “The Darkside's Calling Into the Crypts of Oblivion” do not disappoint and punches right into the guts, ripping them out without mercy. The atmosphere – dark, sinister and utterly evil – is the main thing, for which one should listen to Doombringer. It will overwhelm you. But “Crypts of Oblivion” also offers truly killer riffs, mainly played in almost doomy death metal tempos, but with few moments, when the pace fastens a bit into mid tempo… It really is heavy as hell and I can say that “Crypts of Oblivion” is definitely one of Doombringer’s best songs, which I have listened to so far. I love the sound of it also (raw, filthy, cryptic, but don’t worry, it is not chaotic when you have no idea what the band plays)… so I just have nothing to complain about, it is awesome.
Meanwhile Goat Tyrant is a band, which I have heard about a lot, I had a chance to read some interviews with them, but never bothered to check any of their demos; for no reason, really. I knew that sooner or later I’ll have a chance to listen to their music anyway… And this opportunity came with “The Darkside's Calling Into the Crypts of Oblivion”. Well, music wise Goat Tyrant is very different to Doombringer – and I must say that I prefer “Crypts of Oblivion” over “The Darkside’s Calling”… but I don’t necessarily mean Goat Tyrant is not good. Actually the band is very fine, their thrashing death metal kicks ass, the riffing is really cool, but also archaic and savage in the way that it can push many listeners off. Especially as the production of “The Darkside’s Calling” is very, very harsh and primitive, so the whole stuff sounds like a rehearsal recording… Personally I liked the song, but also I think it could have been better. I mean the sound could be more aggressive and so the song would also be more relentless and also the vocals could be better. But despite that I think Goat Tyrant is very OK and definitely they deserved to be aside Doombringer. Ha, I may even finally listen to their demo compilation “Thy Summoning of Three Demonic Rituals”.
So, very recommendable split EP, but mainly for Doombringer, who – I dare to say – turn to be one of the leading forces on the European obscure death metal scene.
Final rate: 80/100

Seance - Awakening of the Gods

SEANCE - Awakening of the Gods (PULVERIZED - CD 2009)
This album came out as a total surprise. I didn’t know and didn’t expect those Swedes ever to come back from the dead, and they did. But I guess it’s cool they finally managed to put new material together, even though it took them 15 years to do so. I must say I didn’t have a smallest idea what to expect from “Awakening of the Gods”. Sure, Seance was one of the most interesting Swedish death metal acts in the beginning of the 90’s and their “Fornever Laid to Rest” is a stunning album. Also the second LP “Saltrubbed Eyes” was great, but also so different music wise that it could have been recorded by a different band. And 15 years later I could have only tried to guess which direction Seance would follow. Honestly I expected something similar to neither of their old albums.
It’s been too long and the music has changed too much to expect another “Saltrubbed Eyes”. With the first seconds of “Awakening of the Gods” I usually am quite disappointed with the production of this album. I’m not saying it’s utterly bad, but I miss some aggression there. It’s very sterile and fits more to the modern thrash metal bands, which to be honest I don’t follow at all, and such sound haven’t got the aggression and obscure feeling of Swedish death metal I would normally expect. Production aside, the music is able to defend itself. Seance was able to create strong and even material with some really crushing songs.

Although I don’t understand the point of putting that crappy instrumental titled “Flight of the Wicked”, rest of the material is really good and proves it was worth waiting for Seance all these years. Musically it’s of course different from what we know from “Fornever Laid to Rest” and “Saltrubbed Eyes”, to me it’s more thrash / death metal record, if one asks, luckily it has remained the Swedish death metal vibe what sometimes brings Seance close to such newer acts like Facebreaker. The thrashing thing comes mainly due to the work of both guitarists, who by the way play some well advanced technically stuff. The album is pretty varied as you could fine there some slower, more groovy tracks like “Choose Your Enemy” and “They” for instance, as well as something like “Your Time Has Come”, which is fast and brutal song.

There are some hooks here and there; “Burn Me” is just excellent track, with this awesome chorus “buuuurrrnnn meeee!!!” growled by Johan Larsson. As overall the album has cool vibe and often reminds me also Pestilence’s “Resurrection Macabre” album, especially with such songs like “Forever Haunted” and the mentioned “Burn Me”; but that could be maybe mainly due to that sterile production, which reminds me about the latest album from the Dutch legend…? In the end it’s pretty difficult to judge “Awakening of the Gods”, honestly. I guess it all depends what your expectations were. If one looks for classic, pure Swedish death metal album, this CD may leave him disappointed, as to my opinion it’s quite different from that. But if you’re just looking for good death metal songs of whatever sound, you may like the album. The decision is yours… Myself, I like the old SEANCE albums more, but this comeback is also OK, so no shame there.
Final rate: 70/100

Seance - Saltrubbed Eyes

SEANCE - Saltrubbed Eyes (BLACK MARK - CD 1993)
I guess that bands, which managed to debut with such stunning albums like Seance did with their “Fornever Laid to Rest” must have felt a lot of pressure and anxiety while working on their second LPs. Probably they’ve been asking themselves: “will we manage to get it right again and maybe even do better full length?”. As a fan I’ve also asked myself this question quite often and honestly not every band gets the classic formula right two times in the row. There are bands that missed some important ingredients, which were present on their debuts and that resulted in less killer, more average second albums. To be honest this is something I have in my mind while listening to Seance second full length.
Seance debut was a brilliant work; it was a real death metal explosion, which turned everything into ash. Meanwhile “Saltrubbed Eyes” is quite different. Don’t get me wrong here – it’s not different in the same way as Afflicted’s second album compared to their first one, to give just one example. Seance still performs Swedish death metal. There’s just one important detail, which I miss here – “Saltrubbed Eyes” isn’t even half as brutal and uncompromising as the first CD. “Fornever Laid to Rest” was amazingly extreme and fast, slaying with thunderous force, reminding me even some American crews like Malevolent Creation and Deicide. This newer Seance album is slower and more varied, and first of all more tempered, calmer.

I don’t think anyone would compare it to those American bands anymore. Soundwise “Saltrubbed Eyes” is definitely Swedish and is in my opinion really close to what Edge of Sanity was doing at some point of their career. I don’t know if it’s a matter of the similar production or what, but really Seance reminds me Dan Swano’s crew – with the only difference that Seance is less melodic and don’t use clean vocals. “Saltrubbed Eyes” is still quite aggressive record though. But most of it is played in mid paced tempos; some songs like the title track are quite weird and sound like something done by a different band comparing it to the earlier recordings and really remind me both Edge of Sanity and Entombed from their “Clandestine” album; it also reminds this weird hybrid of death metal that Gorefest came up with “Erase” LP.

And such “Angelmeat (Part II)” sounds almost progressive, it’s bizarre song, which I’m not even sure if I like that much. Some ideas or riffs Seance putted on this record couldn’t totally convince me; there’s even an instrumental titled “Hidden Under Scars” which is very unusual for the death metal record. Definitely I like two tracks that open the album: “Soulerosion” and “13th Moon”, which are quite groovy. Luckily there are also some faster tunes like “Controlled Bleeding”, but even this song isn’t as extreme as I expected it to be. There’s also great song called “'Til Death Do Us Join”, which is an old Orchriste track from their demo 1989! It’s odd that such an old song is also my favourite from the entire album he, he, probably because it’s the fastest and most aggressive piece here.

I must say that the album is quite smooth listen as for death metal record. Even though the vocals are still rough this album could speak also to maniacs of more modern thrash metal type of music. As for myself I do enjoy “Saltrubbed Eyes”, it’s a decent album, worth having in the collection, but if I had to choose between this and the previous one, my choice would definitely be the mighty “Fornever Laid to Rest”.
Final Rate: 75/100

Seance - Fornever Laid To Rest

SEANCE - Fornever Laid To Rest (BLACK MARK - LP 1992)
I still remember the day when I got this album and played it on cassette for the first time. Bruuuutttaaaalll!!!! This is what I had in my mind then, as I was really blown away by the violent nature of Seance music. I was first quite surprised, as “Forneved Laid to Rest” didn’t sound like any other Swedish band I knew so far. I was a big fan of Dismember, Desultory, Cemetary, Epitaph and few others, and all these bands had more melodic style and none of them sounded as tight and extreme as this one. Of course Cannibal Corpse, but maybe some early Deicide influences may be spotted here and there, as well as strong Malevolent Creation vibe, but surely Seance hasn’t got anything in common with other bands from their homeland.
Anyway, what I’m also going to say is that “Fornever Laid to Rest” is an ultimate, fast death metal cannonade. It’s so fast and uncompromising, so relentless and aggressive that its energy will crush your head with no hesitate. It’s classic death metal, no more or less. Eight tracks in total, circling around 30 minutes of musical slaughter will definitely be enough to please everybody. Starting with “Reincarnage” this album doesn’t take even a minute to slow down or get quiet. It’s pure, raw energy, a maelstrom of torturing, blood spilling riffs. As I already mentioned Malevolent Creation earlier, I must admit that stylistically I can put Seance in similar box, as both bands use similar patterns, technique, tempos, riffing and influences. Another obvious source of influence must be good old Deicide, especially as Seance also create quite dark, horror and blasphemous atmosphere, only not so completely satanic and lunatic…

From the other hand I think that Seance music has more space, more ability to include varied parts, even melodies, like in this great song titled “Haunted”. But “Reincarnage” is definitely one of the more noticeable songs, with some truly killer riffs, great guitar leads and memorable chorus. “Sin” is another my favourite, with fuckin great riffs, all played in merciless fast tempo, with almost thrash metal aggression and really vicious vocals from Johan Larsson. I definitely love this song! It’s surprising, but the songs I like most from “Fornever Laid to Rest” are those from the “Levitised Spirits” demo! Seance re-recorded four demo anthems here: “Reincarnage”, “Sin”, great “Haunted” and “The Blessing of Death”; each worth being on this CD, as they’re brilliant! And they’re some of the fastest and most relentless tracks on the album.

Of the new songs, the title track brings my attention as its energy and brutality is able to blow out the speakers. Meanwhile “Necronomicon” is probably the least favourite song here (still good though!), played in much slower tempo, with some experimental parts here and there… That’s the example for the space in Seance music for more varied parts I mentioned earlier. It sounds OK and completes the album nicely, but if I had to choose the worst track here, it would be this one. “Wind of Gehenna” has great Vader-eqsue vibe and could easily find its place on “Sothis” for instance, it’s another slower, but this time really great song, with some of the best riffing on the album and even the fact that it’s an instrumental track doesn’t disturb enjoying it and banging my head with furious strength.

Production wise “Fornever Laid To Rest” is also spotless, I totally like the way guitars and drums sound, also the vocals, etc. Add to all this brilliant front cover from mighty Dan Seagrave and definitely we can speak of one of the greatest and most complete death metal albums ever.
Final rate: 95/100

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Bathory - Bathory


BATHORY - Bathory (BLACK MARK - LP 1984)
It is a damn cold morning, with snow covering everything outside. Ha, my first though, after waking up, was that it is a perfect condition to put a Norwegian record on the turntable… and my choice would normally be something like early Satyricon or Immortal or any other classic Norwegian black metal band, but once my sight laid on the collection of Bathory albums I knew that I need to start the day with something even more archaic and something what actually is the real root for the Norwegian black metal. So, Bathory and the debut album of Quorthon was my choice. Well, I hope I don’t need to remind you the whole story behind this LP and the fact that it actually is the very first real black metal LP, at least in my opinion. And I say that because honestly I always rated Bathory much higher than the early Venom outputs, including the genre calling “Black Metal” LP, which was good of corpse, with many classics included, but which is just not as perfect as any of the early Bathory releases. So, knowing the consequence of my thesis, this is MY first black metal classic release. But then again I cannot say that it is the best Bathory release, because it is not, but surely one, which contains many – the whole tracklist? – classic tunes and one, which went further in its diabolical, raw and primitive display than anyone and anything before. And it was 1984, let me remind you. I was fuckin four years old at the time, when Quorthon recorded “Bathory” hehe!
One may wonder what the hell everybody sees in an album, with so low budget, primitive, harsh and with so terribly garage production, where the songs – if you listen to them nowadays – sound so archaic and everything is just a mess? Well, but isn’t that actually a charm of such releases? Would you imagine “Bathory” with the crystal clean production and with Quorthon’s vocals not as rasp and utterly inhuman? No way it would sound as good as it does. And would this album be the same, with a colourful, stylish cover? No fuckin way!!!! “Bathory” has actually one of the simplest, but most effective and memorable front artworks in the history of metal music and it is so effective that no surprise it ended up as the theme for so many t-shirts or tattoos.
The howling wind, infernal bells and chains resound… isn’t that a classic black metal intro? “Storm of Damnation” certainly evokes an eerie, sinister atmosphere right away and sets the right mood for the whole album. And musically it is something what haven’t been heard before at that time. I can only imagine what confusion and mixed feelings it must have raised when people were listening to it in 1984. I don’t think something so utterly evil, primitive and noisy has been recorded before, maybe only Hellhammer demos were matching it and then also Sodom’s “In the Sign of Evil”, which also are for me a foundation of the black metal we know. The riffing on “Bathory” is quite specific, because it sounds like someone took rock’n’roll and heavy metal and transformed it into something way faster and more horrid; maybe took some of the Motorhead, a bit of Venom (although I don’t know if Quorthon was ever influenced by them??) and made something even more obscure… and recorded the music in the most primitive conditions, which the recording studio can provide.
To be honest I sometimes rate this album higher than the music may deserve, mainly due to its historical value, more than to the real value of the music, which “Bathory” contains. I mean there are classic songs, no doubt, but they are just not as perfect as the stuff from some of the future Bathory releases, especially the 666% perfect “Under the Sign of Black Mark” and utterly evil “The Return…”, not to mention the three classic and utterly epic Viking albums which followed the two, which I just mentioned. I like them more than “Bathory” and that is probably why my final rate is not 100, but 85; mind though that for the pure historical matter I would give it a perfect, 100, score. From the other hand I am not surprised that this may be the most influential of all Bathory releases and when you listen to “In Conspiracy With Satan” tribute to Bathory you’ll realize than “Bathory” was covered there almost entirely.
And if you still have not enough then read some of the albums lyrics, terribly simple and infantile, but wonderfully charming nowadays: “I heard the angels cry, I watched the witches fly, I saw the clouds of death, slowly blackening the sky…”, “I swear the oath of blood and tear the virgin's flesh, I gash the wounds of heaven and rides the wings of death…”.
Standout tracks: “Hades”, “Reaper”, “Sacrifice”, “In Conspiracy With Satan”, “War”, “Armageddon”, “Raise the Dead”
Final rate: 85/100

Empheris / Wishmaster - Heavy Metal Inquisition

EMPHERIS / WISHMASTER - Heavy Metal Inquisition (NECROPULSAR - CD 2011)
Few months have passed since I recommended and reviewed any Empheris’ release the last time, so let’s check yet another split CD, in which these Warsaw slaughterers participate. This one was released in 2011 by Necropulsar / Hellgate and it is a joined force of Empheris and Szczecin’s Wishmaster; all under the great title “Heavy Metal Inquisition”! Obviously neither of these two bands plays the classic heavy metal, but definitely this kind of music, with such cult acts like Accept, Maiden, Mercyful Fate, etc, must have influenced them as much as the raw black and thrash metal have. Anyway, I was very happy to finally have a chance to listen to “Heavy Metal Inquisition”, as I keep collecting most of the Empheris releases – they surely are one of my favorite Polish bands. But they’re so active with releasing so many different materials that it gets more and more difficult to keep the track of what was their latest release, but I’m happy that despite such a frequent releasing schedule, their music is still damn solid and enjoyable. So is this split with Wishmaster.
While I had absolutely no idea about the second of these bands, Empheris delivered stuff, which I would expect from them exactly. I mean, is there something else than blackened thrash metal, what those guys can play? No, they keep their style untouched and that’s great, especially if we listen to such killer songs like “Angels Without Wings”. This really is old school to the bone metal and if that doesn’t convince you, then maybe Venom’s and Hellhammer’s covers will, as they have been played in truly classic and pure archaic way. Killer!
But I must say that for me personally it’s not Empheris, who won my heart on “Heavy Metal Inquisition” split CD, as surprisingly it turned out that Wishmaster is even more lethal on this release! Really, I had no idea that this band is so killer and good. I guess it’s time to get some of their older stuff, as these two songs, which they have putted on this CD are damn brilliant. Production wise it is quite clean and well recorded, the sound is definitely more aggressive than Empheris’, but the music is just an old school metal celebration; quite similar to Empheris, stylistically both bands fit together perfectly. But as I said, on this split I like Wishmaster’s songs more, “Witchcult” is so catchy that I will sing it all day now, and “Hellish Raw Metal” is like an official anthem for speed / thrash / black metal. Ha, bands like Aura Noir can feel a real threat from Wishmaster. Their fantastic part of “Heavy Metal Inquisition” is finished with Bewitched’s cover, but since I’ve never been listening to this band much, then I’m not gonna comment the way this cover has been played – except that it is very, very good listen.
Do I still need to recommend this CD? For me it actually is one of the best releases with Empheris, so I’ll spend some more time with it. I’ve got a couple of cold lagers in my fridge, so isn’t it the best way to spend the time with “Heavy Metal Inquisition”?
Standout tracks: Empheris - “Angels Without Wings”, Wishmaster - “Hellish Raw Metal”
Final rate: 87/100