Thursday, 27 June 2013

Under the Church - Demo 2013

UNDER THE CHURCH - Demo cassette 2013
A while ago I was contacted by Erik Qvick – ex drummer of Swedish legendary death metal band Nirvana 2002 – who wanted to thank me for my review of his band’s compilation LP “Recordings 89-91”, which I wrote after getting a vinyl copy of this excellent release. And you know, this is always something truly amazing, when someone like Erik – whose music you’re a big fan – contacts you and thanks. Fuck, I guess it should rather be me, who should say THANKS here: all in all, Nirvana 2002 was such a cool band and I really liked that compilation LP. Back then Erik wrote something like that: “…I think you will be quite happy to know that we're working together again on new music, we are not called Nirvana 2002 anymore, this is a new band...BUT with the same members…”. WOW, I got interested right away. Obviously it would be easier for Erik and his friends to record and release something under the name Nirvana 2002, but instead they went for something completely new… respect! This way it means they won’t be vulturing on their old band, but start with something completely new (even if they’ll have to carry their past with them). Anyway, I almost forgot about everything, when one day I’ve found an info about band called Under the Church… and bang, it was the band, which Erik wrote me about few weeks earlier! I contacted him again and he wrote me that they just did a short demo, available on the bandcamp website and later they’ll release it on tape with a patch. I was very, very happy, I’ve listened to the music from bandcamp and was really blown away by it!!! I asked if I can buy a tape, but instead Erik sent me one, to review for my blog… and wow, just fuckin WOW!
First of all, I am very, very excited to have this demo in my collection… there were not many copies of it released and they all have spread very quickly, so it is so damn good to have one! What’s more, I must say that musically Under the Church is one of the best death metal bands, which I have listened to in the past few years! Yeah, I remember that there are so many great bands and releases with Swedish old school death metal, as this style – and old school death metal in general – became very popular and obviously I liked many, many records with this sort of music. But still, I think that not too many can rival Under the Church, so awesome is that music from this demo! These guys, even if they didn’t do any death metal at all for almost two decades, must have had this style in their blood or it infected them so much in their youth back in the early 90’s that now, when they write some new tunes it comes so easily and naturally for them that the music turns into something truly fuckin amazing and sounds so natural… And it is the same impression, which I had when listening to Death Breath’s album few years ago. You know, Nicke Andersson haven’t played death metal for years, doing his other band Hellacopters and suddenly he came up with such an awesome album like “Stinking Up the Night”… and here, with Under the Church, I have the same impression!
There’s only one thing, which I don’t like about this demo… it is so damn short, only about 10 minutes of music, while I would really want to hear some more! Everything else is just killer and essential! Even that artwork and the whole way, which the band did their demo – that drawing on the front cover may look primitive and almost like done by a child, plus they have used the old type writer here… but why not? This is demo cassette and the band did it in the same way like when they have been releasing the demo over 20 years ago. Good idea, don’t you think?
Under the Church offers three songs… and Death Breath is a good point of reference here, with the exception that I think that Under the Church is even more uncompromising and filthy, more obscure and damn straight forward. Also bands like Autopsy, Entombed, Maim, Morbus Chron, Nihilist and such come to my mind… But all three songs are just superb, with such an awesome riffs, some more harmonious parts here and there and with just a damn killer portion of energy, which fills my apartment, when I play this cassette and play it LOUD! The music is very catchy and it just makes you bang the head and is just flawless. I seriously think that these three songs are just perfect, I like everything about them and I can only be happy that I was honoured to get this tape. Now I cannot wait until Under the Church will do some more recordings. And I am also sure that the record labels will start the battle to sign them, if they obviously decide to record a full length album – something even the band is not so sure yet, as Under the Church was more like a fun band in the beginning, but the response is so good that you never know where will it end... All the best!
My favourite song is “Haunted by Demons”, which is slow, with great feeling of old, obscure horror movies… that opening riff sounds just damn creepy, what a killer tune! Just close your eyes or switch off the lights and you may really feel like something horrid is slowly approaching… something evil and unspeakable… something you cannot describe… run, you fool…
Final rate: 99/100

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Decaying - The Last Days of War

DECAYING - The Last Days of War (HELLTHRASHER - CD 2013)
Imagine a situation that someone plays you an album without telling you what band it is… you start to listen to it and immediately you come up with few ideas:
“Is this new Asphyx CD? It certainly sounds like them! But wait a minute, it is slightly more brutal… then maybe it is an unexpected new Bolt Thrower record? All in all, this music seems to have a very similar attitude. But again, this guy behind the mic sounds like Martin van Drunen, so maybe it’s Hail of Bullets?”
But no, none of these answers are right. What you have been listening to is new Decaying album! I may understand if you haven’t heard about this Finnish death squadron before, but I can assure you they’re not coming out of nowhere, “The Last Days of War” being already their third official album release… and if you worship the classic bands, which I have mentioned above and the traditional, war death metal in general, then don’t hesitate, but get “The Last Days of War” quickly, as in my opinion this is one of the strongest releases of this year.
Some of you may argue about Decaying’s lack of originality or too obvious resemblances to Asphyx, Hail of Bullets and Bolt Thrower, even question the sense of this band’s existence, but I wouldn’t exaggerate so much. Personally I never considered originality to be the most important aspect, which would make the music to be good. And besides, I think that, despite those resemblances, Decaying managed to create something unique and for sure they get more and more individual, even if their music is based on the classic death metal bands. They picked up elements from some old bands, glued them all together, created many devastating riffs and made sure that the music will be utterly memorable, almost catchy and headbangers friendly… and this recipe works damn well here. “The Last Days of War” for sure is an album, which hooked me up instantly and I cannot resist it, having it in my stereo and listening to it constantly for the past few days with maniacal joy and thirst for great death metal riffing. And Decaying for sure knows what the POWER OF RIFF is all about – and if I had to pick up one adjective, which would describe “The Last Days of War” then it is POWERFUL! These riffs are so damn strong, so heavy and aggressive, but many are also catchy... and additionally some parts are nicely melodic, in the vein of the melodic epic harmony of Asphyx. Decaying’s death metal is often slow and doomy, with some marching rhythms and heavy attitude… and I just really, really like, when death metal gets so slow and epic and especially when the add a nice melody to it – like in the opening theme for “Passchendaele” or “The Pacific” – it always freezes my blood and the atmosphere is absolutely amazing and memorable.
When comparing “The Last Days of War” to the previous album “Encirclement” I can spot a great progress in many aspects of Decaying’s music. First of all, I think that the songs are just better, the riffing is ultimate and the whole is more interesting and arse kicking… Then the production value is flawless. This album sounds exactly as I would like to, if I was going to record such death metal album. It is very energetic, powerful and destroys the speakers and the walls, when the CD is played loud – exactly kind of damage, which a death metal record should cause. Finally, Decaying went to their senses and shortened the whole album, for 20 minutes comparing “The Last Days of War” to “Encirclement” – which was a very good choice, I think. The previous album was very good also, but maybe slightly too long, while this one sounds just right to me. Finally, with three full length CDs composed and recorded within three years it seems like Decaying is stronger and stronger, their music gets better and better and for sure this is something not everyone can manage to achieve, especially in such a short time. Well done then, Decaying, I am very pleased with your music and for sure I will be coming back to “The Last Days of War” very often.
Oh, I almost forgot, but I wanted also to write a couple of words about the lyrics, especially as personally I am also quite interested in the themes of wars, II World War especially, but also the first of the great wars is something what I read about occasionally. “The Last Days of War” deals with this theme from start to finish. It speaks about the D-Day, about the fights in Ardennes (siege of Bastogne is one of my favourite scenes of the II WW), about the bombarding of the cities (Leipzig, London, Warsaw or whatever), fights in Africa (Desert Fox is among my most interesting persons of the IIWW) and on the Pacific islands and finally it goes back to the IWW with the battle of Ypres. I don’t need to add that I like these lyrics a lot and it is a great pleasure to read these lines, following the music.
Standout tracks: “The Last Days of War”, “Passchendaele”, “The Pacific”
Final rate: 90/100

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Lifeless - Godconstruct

LIFELESS - Godconstruct (F.D.A. Rekotz LP 2013)
Every month brings us new band, which dismember the corpses with old styled death metal band and in the recent months the name Lifeless has been popping up more frequently, as this German band has just released their album titled “Godconstruct” through the relentless F.D.A. Rekotz (for sure one of the best labels around these days). But it would be a lie if someone called Lifeless “yet another band, which decided to take their piece of the trend cake”. Why? Well, Lifeless has been formed nine years ago and their first full length album titled “Beyond the Threshold of Death” was released already in 2008, at the time when this trend wasn’t so spread. This first album of Lifeless may not have been the most thrilling piece of death metal, which I have heard, to be honest, it was nothing special. But one day I’ve purchased a split 7”EP Lifeless / Chapel of Disease and from this moment I knew I will have to get the upcoming full length albums from both bands. They did present two killer tunes on that split, but it was the song titled “Godconstruct”, which I liked especially. It sounded like a classic masterpiece of the Swedish death metal and if you have in mind my eternal worship for “Like an Ever Flowing Stream” and other Dismember LPs, as well as for such bands as Goddefied, God Macabre, Mastication, Epitaph and Carnage, then you may realise how much excited I was for Lifeless upcoming LP. And finally here it is! I actually am a bit late, as “Godconstruct” has been released already three months ago, but I was going to get the LP version of this album, so this is why it took me so long to get it. Which I finally did obviously and now I can listen to it with all the pleasure!
But I guess I should start with one thing… I’ve read a couple of reviews, which “Godconstruct” got and they were very positive, but I must say that it starts to piss me off, when people describe new bands with words like “oh, this is new incarnation of Dismember… forget about Dismember, they’re dead, now you have Lifeless, bla bla bla”. For fuck sake, I will never forget about Dismember, they’re the masters and the best Swedish death metal band ever – and even if such saying would flatter Lifeless, then one thing must be said here: all in all Lifeless are only followers or almost the imitators of what Dismember and some other bands have done 20 years ago. And I really prefer to consider Lifeless to be just a killer, relatively new death metal band, not a damn reincarnation of whoever... Dismember will always be one. There can be only one.
Saying so, I won’t deny that the Swedish scene and this one particular band had an enormous influence on the music of Lifeless. There are many moments on “Godconstruct”, when you can scream that it sounds like a theme from the “Like an Ever Flowing Stream” or “Massive Killing Capacity” LP or something else, luckily Lifeless managed to get one thing right: they just composed some killer songs. Sure, among all those melodies or riffs you can find similarities to the old scene, but those Germans have really captured the essence of this music style and all the songs, which they have composed for “Godconstruct” are just deliciously lethal and infectious. I really, really like how catchy they are, how much energy they blast forward, punching the listener mercilessly and then giving him a moment to breath, when they start playing a nice, melodic theme, which obviously will stay in your head for the whole fuckin day. So, taking influences from the certain style and bands is one thing, but doing it correctly and managing to compose a decent material is another. Lifeless really did prove to be one of the best bands from this new wave of old school death metal and I can assure you that if you dig the albums from Entrails, Tormented, Graveyard, etc then I am sure that “Godconstruct” will also be a mandatory purchase for you.
When I listen to side A of the LP I feel just totally tormented. When the last sound of the finishing song from this side finishes I am almost hmm… lifeless, so much energy and passionate playing this album threw on me. Starting with the title song, which I already know from the split EP with Chapel of Disease and which for sure sounds like a classic masterpiece of Dismember, especially when that killer melody at the end resounds (this is Lifeless’ “Dreaming in Red” hehe!) through such awesome anthems like “Blood for the Gods” (fantastic opening theme), “Towards Damnation” (fast motherfucker!) and “Moribund”… This band has no mercy and compiled absolutely great riffs all the time through these songs. My only complaint would probably be the too obvious loan of the melodic theme in “Moribund”, which… well, I cannot put a name of the band and the album here, but I am absolutely sure that I already know it. I think it may have been originally used in an intro or something, but damn it… I cannot remember where. Anyway, it certainly sounds great and I like how Lifeless has arranged this theme, adding some keyboards to it. For sure this melody belongs to the most memorable moments of “Godconstruct”, so this complaint is nothing really major.
But when speaking about the songs from side B I feel like they not quite as good as those from side A, you won’t find there such an instant classic and memorable tune like the title song or “Moribund”, which is a shame. There are not so many melodic parts there or the epic, catchy moments… But the songs are very good anyway and I think that I can mention especially “Sworn to Death” – nice, aggressive tune, which features Sven Gross from Fleshcrawl on additional guest vocals. Then “Blindead” and “Seething With Rage” are also good, especially “Blindead” kills with that opening riff. It also offers some nice melodies and in my opinion this song sounds a bit different to “Godconstruct” for instance.
Production wise I have nothing more to desire… “Godconstruct” has a clean, crisp sound, the guitars tone is perfect and obviously very Swedish, and the whole album sound is very energetic and powerful, what I always require from killer death metal albums. For sure “Godconstruct” has been perfected, speaking of the production, to the best results. Artwork… Well, the front cover fits the lyrics very well. The album is very antireligious, it speaks about how the religions dominate this world and how they enslave the people, make them blind to see the truth… Figures of saints and the priests have demonic faces, so that all creates a nice concept. And the front artwork, done by Marc Niederhagemann (the vocalist and guitarist of Lifeless), looks great, especially in the big format of the vinyl. Sadly the LP doesn’t contain the poster with this artwork, but well, you cannot have everything. All in all, I must say that “Godconstruct” turned out to be an awesome album and for sure it met my expectations fully. I am very pleased with this LP and honour the band for delivering such an awesome piece of traditional death metal. And no, they’re not a reincarnation of Dismember, but new (lifeless) being, which is here to decapitate you and rip your guts out, with no mercy. Beware.
Standout tracks: “Godconstruct”, “Blood for the Gods”, “Moribund”, “Towards Damnation”
Final rate: 85/100

Monday, 24 June 2013

Doombringer - Ancient Abominations

DOOMBRINGER - Ancient Abominations (Pluton's Rising Productions - CD 2012)
First time I’ve listened to any music from Doombringer was when I got their amazing EP titled “Sevenfold Pestilence”, released back in 2012. I must say that Doombringer really impressed me with the dark and sinister blackened death metal and they quickly became one of my favourite Polish bands. Obviously I decided to check some more info about the band and then I discovered that it is a new project of some (ex??) Bestial Raids and Cultes des Ghoules members – which are two much respected Polish bands in the worldwide underground. I’m not surprised then that the quality of music of Doombringer is so great. Anyway, my next encounter with their ghastly sounds was the split 7”EP with Goat Tyrant, which again proved that Doombringer is able to create a stunning, freezing atmosphere… and then I have found “Ancient Abominations” compilation. I’ve found it one day in the distro and decided to order. This red digipack release contains two Doombringer demos: “Abhorrent Dreams of the End” (from 2009) and “Primeval Sorcery” (from 2008), so it definitely is a nice addition to the collection, especially as both tapes are quite difficult to obtain nowadays.
And I must say that “Ancient Abominations” really possessed me for few days and Doombringer once more showed me how great potential they have and how awesome is their music. But let’s start from the beginning, shall we? And the beginning is “Primeval Sorcery” demo. I must admit that this demo recording may actually be my least favourable release from all Doombringer materials. It surely is the most primitive and savage of all their recordings, it is utterly simple and raw, but I don’t want to say that it is uninteresting or something, as it is still very solid and interesting release, musically I think Doombringer was even more black metal here than death metal and for sure right from the beginning of their existence the band was able to capture the essence of darkness and evil. For example I got impressed by the opening part of “Crossing the Path of Final Rite” straight away; what a killer riffing, great rhythm, what a brilliant, dismal and malevolent atmosphere… Oh, it is an enormous pleasure to listen to such sounds. And then also “Bones of Sorcerer” really crushed my…hmm, bones, hehe, I especially like that killer doomy riffing, which opens the song. Wow, it truly sounds grim, but the whole song is over eight minutes long, so there are more good moments in there. All in all Doombringer from their first demo was able to impress and if you’re into such bands as Acheron, Beherit, Incantation, as well as into the old Greek scene, then this demo will surely be something for you.
But the second demo of Doombringer, titled “Abhorrent Dreams of the End”, is even better! First of all, I like the production of it more. It feels like such sound fits the band’s style more and truly I must admit that I am impressed by the whole demo a lot. Already the opening track is something huge, even if in many ways “Descending into the Pit” is more like an intro – it begins with some church organs or something and then a slow, doomy riff bursts and the vocals howl: “descent… down there… windless stairs… downwards…”. Oh, what a great atmosphere. I must say that I have a feeling like the music of Doombringer was played in a chamber or even a church, where they desecrate and profanate the once sacred place and shred it into the dust. This is what I meant, when I wrote that the production of this demo fits the music perfectly, as it gives this impression of abyssal, dark and evil blackened doom death metal. It is almost like some sort of horrid mass or ritual! The whole “Abhorrent Dreams of the End” demo has some truly crushing songs and along with the opening ritual, I must mention the title song – which has some absolutely great riffs and utterly freezing mood. I especially like that part with the keyboards! Then “…of the Ancient Curse” impresses me every time I listen to this song – it is quite fast in few parts, it even has more harmonious break in the middle part and in general this is just a damn impressive and memorable anthem. And finally “Darkside Calls”… Aaarrghhhhhh! Is it my favourite song from this demo? I guess so, the riffing in it is truly possessing and the atmosphere once more is just evil and ritualistic. It is impossible to resist it and I don’t even try – KILLER song.
I must strongly recommend this compilation CD to the fans of Samael, Acheron, Beherit, Varathron, Necros Christos, Grave Miasma, Antediluvian, Mitochondrion and the likes… I can assure you that Doombringer is equally great and if you like all those bands, which I mentioned and pick up some bits and pieces form them all and glue together then I am sure you will know what is the sound and style of this Polish horrid form. I feel impressed and possessed and cannot wait to hear the debut album of Doombringer, which is going to be released by Malignant Voices soon, I hope…
Standout tracks: “…of the Ancient Curse”, “Darkside Calls”, “Abhorrent Dreams of the End”
Final rate: 89/100