Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Disma - The Vault of Membros

DISMA - The Vault of Membros (DETEST Records - LP 2013)
If you have checked some of my previous reviews then you may remember my quite enthusiastic reaction to Disma’s debut full length album “Towards the Megalith” (which I’m still waiting to get released on vinyl). It truly was a massacring and awesomely brutal, massive death metal and for sure it also turned out to be one of my favourite albums released in years. Its main strength lied within the ability to create a dark and eerie atmosphere, to deliver crushing, massive riffs, which really were able to dismember… and you know, to put it simply, Disma just composed several absolutely spotless old school death metal songs, with killer riffage, great vocals and not to mention flawless production… It seemed like Disma perfected everything and this is why I consider “Towards the Megalith” as one of the greatest death metal records of the decade or more. But while I was enjoying “Towards the Megalith” I also realized that so far I haven’t had a chance to hear any other releases from Disma – and they also released a demo and two 7”EPs (one of which is a spit release with Winterwolf – band, which features an Antti Boman, ex Demilich vocalist!). I lost my chance to get any of them, but I was quite happy when I have found out that Detest Records will do “The Vault of Membros” vinyl version. Sad news was that it is the final release of this excellent label – something I couldn’t believe that they decided to end their activity so soon… but well, that’s another story. As a fan I am happy that I managed to pick up several releases from Detest and among them there’s “The Vault of Membros” on vinyl. They’ve released it on nice gatefold cover and the record itself comes on red colour, but none of that is really so important (especially as the artwork on this demo is not as damn effective as the cover, which you can see on “Towards the Megalith”) – only one thing matters and that is the music.
Music on “The Vault of Membros” is just fuckin awesome. I guess it shouldn’t really be a surprise, as all three songs from this demo have been re-recorded for the album. And they are: “Lost in the Burial Fog”, “The Vault of Membros” and “Chaos Apparition”. Expect only the best US styled obscure death metal, mixed with everything what the European scene has to offer (a lot of Finnish, Swedish and British influence can be spotted everywhere); slow and massive, morbid, heavy and brutal… and it will feel like something ultra heavy is smashing your face and squeezing your limbs like in the vice, splashing the blood everywhere and bringing unimaginable pain. Ha, what a wonderful feeling! Take “Lost in the Burial Fog”, for instance, what a damn killer song that is. What I like is that it is not just a plain and simple Incantation worship, but there’s something more to it, as I mentioned you’ll find there also some Swedish or Finnish influences, from the likes of Grave, Adramelech or Demigod… and it is such an awesome listen. I love the deep, maniacal vocals of Craig Pillard, as well as the sound – even if is not as 100% perfect as on the album – plus that crushing, powerful riffage is so awesome, with those slow parts or harmonies… the whole stuff sounds like a classic death metal record. I just cannot resist those sounds and keep playing that record over and over again!
“The Vault of Membros” vinyl version contains an extra track, just in case you don’t know. It is a live version of “The Manifestation”, which is a song from the 7”EP. Well, it sounds so well that it is almost hard to believe it is a live recording, especially as there’re no screams of people or any other signs of living beings present during the recording of the song… This is why it sounds weird a bit. But the song is really good and I think it is a good addition to the whole demo. But even without it I would have to strongly recommend you getting this piece of vinyl (or if you’re lucky you may get the original demo cassette somewhere?) – the music of Disma is just powerful and absolutely 666% killer and for me this is one of the best death metal bands of the decade. Now, if I can only ask someone to finally release their full length album on vinyl… I’ve heard that Doomentia will take care of it and will include a bonus 7”EP with two new songs to the album. I fuckin cannot wait to get it!!!!!!!!!
Standout track: “Lost in the Burial Fog”
Final rate: 95/100

Bathory - Blood Fire Death

BATHORY - Blood Fire Death (BLACK MARK - LP 1988)
I already stated in my other review that definitely “Under the Sign of Black Mark” is my favourite Bathory LP and also one of my fave metal albums of all times… but Quorthon, through the years of Bathory existence, managed to compose and record several amazing LPs and if one would ask me which another LP of his I like most then I guess it would be “Blood Fire Death”. Hmm, obviously the choice if pretty difficult, as there’s that amazing originator of what we know as nowadays black metal (at least in my opinion) called “The Return…” and there’s also the great epic “Twilight of the Gods”. But I think “Blood Fire Death” is slightly better than these two – and “Hammerheart” – mainly because this album has some of my favourite Bathory songs, so this is why I would choose this one. Anyway, “Blood Fire Death” should be mentioned as one of the most influential and significant metal albums of all times, not only due to the music it contains, but also because who knows, if this LP hasn’t started something what nowadays everybody knows as “Viking metal” – which is basically any sort of metal music, dealing with Viking myths and other Nordic stuff in the lyrics. Prior to that album Bathory was dealing with satanic and dark matters, with “Blood Fire Death” Quorthon changed some of his lyrics creating something totally new to the scene! At least I don’t know about any other band, which would explore the Vikings theme so much before… OK, maybe there isn’t as much of this stuff on this LP as on the future Bathory records, but surely it’s the first time they’ve appeared! I can only honour and admire Quorthon’s impact on the evolution of the metal scene – first his early works have been a great influence on Norwegian black metal and then he created and influenced another group of bands – mainly Scandinavian – for something different once more. What a creative person he was…
Anyway, “Blood Fire Death”, released back in 1988, is the fourth album of Quorthon and one, which – just as any other previous release of his – brings yet another change in the sound of Bathory. I mean, if you listen to all three previous records it will be certain that none of them sounds like its predecessors and each brings something different to the sound and style of the band. Starting with Venom-esque self titled debut, then going through more darker and utterly evil “The Return…” and finishing off with wonderfully catchy, but epic, dark and evil and way better composed “Under the Sign of Black Mark” – each LP is different. But “Blood Fire Death” is something way diverse and once more Quorthon just turned into completely different direction than anybody would expect. From one hand the album has a handful of savage and fast thrash metal songs and from the other there are some monumental, more melodic and almost beautiful songs, which take the epic side of the previous LP into another dimension.
I guess my - and everybody else’s – favourite songs from “Blood Fire Death” would definitely be the title track and “A Fine Day to Die”… The latter song – opened by a three minute long introduction called “Odens Ride Over Nordland” – is one of the finest nine minutes, which Quorthon has ever composed. This song is just perfect, the riffs are just amazing, so are the vocals and more so I just love the way the whole song has been built, how it develops and creates the tension, keeping the listener with the mouth open in amazement. Long part of this track can really be instrumental, but it still brings the attention and is catchy as hell. And would anyone in the times of “The Return…” expect Bathory to open the album with an acoustic guitar and clean vocals, creating rather peaceful aura, before the first truly heavy and epic riff begin? Combined with the lyrics dealing about the warriors going to the battle it surely feels almost like a fantastic movie soundtrack… just close your eyes and you can see the men, standing in the battlefield, roaring and holding swords, axes or spears, ready to fight or die: “…Along the black mountainside scattered, by the campfires awaiting the dawn two times a hundred men in battles, tried by the steel in the arrow axe and the sword…”. Another epic and impressive song is the title track… this one finishes the album in very similar vein to the opener “A Fine Way to Die” and trust me, it is equally thrilling and memorable as “A Fine Day to Die”!!!! The riffs in this song are just excellent; again this is very long song – 10 minutes, so it is the longest one – opened by a short acoustic theme, soon joined by thunderous drumming and heavy riff; basically whole song has one main riff (one of Quorthon’s best!!!!!!!!), accompanied by some keyboards, but with lots of variations during the song… The song structure is simple, but so damn effective and one of a kind, unique as hell and I always get shivers, when I listen to it! And the vocals of Quorthon in it are just excellent! They’re way cleaner and more melodic than his usual harsh, raw voice and also more understandable, something he’ll continue doing on the future albums. And again, you can just close your eyes to watch Ragnarok and all that Nordic stuff… so awesome! And finally I should mention "For All Those Who Died" – this song I think has pretty strong heavy metal influence, with that mid paced, catchy riff and simple drumming… It may not feel too complicated and also not as epic as the two tracks I mentioned above, but it is so damn catchy, so wonderfully memorable that it surely belongs to the finest moments of “Blood Fire Death”.
In between those monumental and epic tunes “Blood Fire Death” contains also a number of very aggressive and fast thrashing songs, which is a bit of a surprise, as I guess they literally can take you back to Bathory’s beginnings, only on “Blood Fire Death” the sound is way better – even if it feels a bit chaotic in those fast songs – and they’ve progressed a lot, they not as primitive anymore, if I can say so. Listen to “The Golden Walls of Heaven” – man, drums just doesn’t slow down there almost at all, except one fragment really, they’re just beating the skin mercilessly with the same, fast tempo all the time, accompanied by great fast riffing and cacophonic guitar leads. Personally though I prefer "Pace 'Till Death" and “Holocaust” – if we speak of the side A of the vinyl -  which are just excellent songs. The first verse of the "Pace 'Till Death" lyrics says everything about these two songs’ attitude: “Oh I hit top speed, still it's much too slow…” hehe! Yeah, these are fast fuckers, relentless and maybe a bit messy here and there, but I like such stuff a lot. “Holocaust” is just insane, barbaric and it definitely is the fastest song, which Bathory have ever recorded, in my opinion. "…Mirror mirror on the wall I'm the fastest of them all!!!!!!” hehe!!!!!
But of course most of the fans would worship Bathory mainly for the epic music and “Blood Fire Death” delivers a couple of stunning songs from this style… In my opinion even if this LP is not quite as phenomenal as “Under the Sign of Black Mark” it still contains a couple of my favourite Bathory songs. And even if the likes of “The Golden Walls of Heaven” quality wise aren’t as good, it is good enough to just have this LP in the collection and build an altar for it – if you already haven’t got the whole Bathory chapel in your basement! Oh, and obviously as everybody knows the lyrics to "The Golden Walls of Heaven" and "Dies Irae" are acrostics: the first letters of each line spell out words, namely "SATAN" and "CHRIST THE BASTARD SON OF HEAVEN". Can it get any more classic and cult? I don’t think so!! Hail Bathory!
Standout tracks: “A Fine Day to Die”, “Blood Fire Death”, "For All Those Who Died", “Dies Irae”
Final rate: 90/100

Kingdom - Unholy Graveyard

KINGDOM - Unholy Graveyard (TIME BEFORE THE TIME - CD 2008)
Kingdom… I guess not many of you will know this Polish death metal band, unless you already are familiar with their second album – “Morbid Priest of Supreme Blasphemy” - which Hellthrasher Productions has unleashed this year and with which the band finally got some decent promotion. With the debut CD – “Unholy Graveyard”, released by Time Before Time Records in 2008 – the promotion was very limited and thus only a bunch of maniacs have heard it and this band and most of them were from Poland anyway. Even nowadays this CD, limited to barely 750 copies, is quite hard to get, so if you have never heard it before – but you already know “Morbid Priest of Supreme Blasphemy” – now you can read some words about it and find out what was the debut like.
The music on “Unholy Graveyard” is quite diverse, I must admit, and it contains few different death metal attributes spread throughout its ten songs. For example “Riot in Heaven”, which opens the CD, is pretty fast and technical outburst of the brutal death metal… Really, some riffage in this track are fairly technical, what has surprised me a bit, as I expected something more old styled and archaic. “Battle Eternal” continues in similar vein, again it is very intense and crushing, massive piece of music. But it is the third song, “Crown of Thorns”, which caught my attention most so far, with its slower pace, massive, heavy riffage and obscure atmosphere. It really reminds me Incantation… great song, really. And “Devil’s Ritual” turned out to be a real bulldozer, which can remind me some early Angel Corpse works… This song is just colossal, has great fast tempo and riffing, some killer vocals and arrangements – for sure this is one of the best moments of the album. “Transumanar” is another crushing monolith, which will complete the destruction, in case you still have some bones left unbroken.
And I could go and go with all ten tracks of “Unholy Graveyard”, but I guess there’s no reason for that, as most of them would require a similar description. There are, to be honest, some better and some less killer fragments on “Unholy Graveyard”; sometimes the songwriting seems to be a bit too simple and typical and the riffage not always can be that totally exceptional and effective. Luckily there aren’t too many of them and most of the album is just solid and good and surely it should be appreciated by all old school death metal freaks out there, who like when their music is fast, obscure, massively heavy and brutal. Don’t hesitate to get it then, if you only manage to find it anywhere…
Standout tracks: “Crown of Thorns”, “Devil’s Ritual”, “Transumanar”
Final rate: 70/100

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Possessed - The Eyes of Horror

POSSESSED - The Eyes of Horror (COMBAT Records - MLP 1987)
The infatuated trilogy of Possessed classic releases is closed with a 20 minute short MLP “The Eyes of Horror”. Well, the previous album – “Beyond the Gates” – was for me personally a slight disappointment, if I can be honest with you. OK, I will never say it was a complete shite or something like that, because it is a decent thrash metal album, but the problem I have with it is that: 1. It is not as good as “Seven Churches” and 2. The quality of songwriting on this album is fine, but not outstanding and personally I would expect something more from the masters of death / thrash metal. I have a feeling like this album hasn’t aged that well and when I listen to it nowadays I just don’t feel as thrilled as when I listen to any my top thrash metal releases of all times. But another thing is “The Eyes of Horror”… this album is 26 years old now and I think that music wise is it a better effort than the earlier Possessed release.
I simply like these songs more. The riffing is better and more arse kicking, there are more memorable parts on the MLP and the whole material is more straight forward affair rather than a dull guitar masturbating. Already the opening song is crazy – “Confessions” sounds incredibly well, the fast pace, at which it was played, is great and literally this track will force the listener to bang the head otherwise something wrong will happen to him. And “Confessions” isn’t even my personal favourite from “The Eyes of Horror”! That would I think be “My Belief”, which has that killer opening riff and as a whole I think it would be perfect on some early Destruction records. And those riffs in the title track? They’re just excellent, especially with that galloping tempo, which definitely will never let the fans stand like stones, when they’ll hear this song played live. And finally there’s also “Storm In My Mind” – oh, how sweet bad ass thrash metal devastation.
So what I will say for the end of this short review is that I definitely like “The Eyes of Horror” more than “Beyond the Gates” and for me personally it is one of the most classic and obligatory thrash metal releases of all times. Check it out, especially on LP, so you can look at this excellent front artwork of this album.
Standout tracks: “The Eyes of Horror”, “My Belief”
Final rate: 88/100