Friday, 29 November 2013

Empheris / Conquest Icon / Necroist / Wraith / Purifier - We Are the Ancients

This split CD brings a special attention, in my opinion, because it gathers five bands from Warsaw and interestingly they all have similar / sometimes even the same line ups. There are two main bands here: Empheris (probably the main reason why I would want to listen to this CD, as I really like their music a lot) and Conquest Idol (which I have never had a chance to listen to before…). But the guys from these two bands have formed also some side projects and so we have here: Wraith, Necroist and Purifier. I’m not gonna now say what are the line ups of these last three bands, I may do that later, but it is really cool to see how the scene in Warsaw is getting stronger and sort of united, bringing to life some new bands and also organizing gigs, etc. “We Are the Ancients” compiles all five bands and well, I must say that it turned out to be quite interesting experience to listen to them all and enjoy some old skull stuff. I can say that already, but “We Are the Ancients” is really damn cool split and probably the only thing, which I would wish was done better is the layout, as the booklet – as always with Necropulsar releases – is just damn poor and could have been done better.
OK, Empheris opens “We Are the Ancients”… and this is the only band, which I really knew before, having several their CDs in my collection (and most of them are also splits hehe). Empheris belongs to my favourite bands from that sort of thrashing black metal style and I can truly recommend you some of their recordings, as they really fuckin shred to pieces. “We Are the Ancients” brings their three new songs and I am happy to say they don’t disappoint. OK, maybe it isn’t their best offering ever and there were some better songs composed and recorded in the past, but that high quality is still there and it is easy to enjoy some lethal, whipping riffs and killer songs. The production is quite rough, but it fits this music perfectly. What I like about Empheris is how memorable are some of their songs or particular riffs, like that awesome opening riff for “Nos es Antiquitas”… what a killer. Then it fastens and turns into one vicious thrashing black metal bastard and I love it. There’s some more melodic stuff here as well, so it is not just pure aggression and Adrian, the vocalist (and editor of one of the collects fanzines, R’Lyeh) together with Empherion did awesome job with the vocal arrangements. “The Anthem of Descending Darkness” is similarly awesome, again very vicious, fast and aggressive, but with that kind of epic feeling, slightly reminding me Absu, which I like a lot and finally there’s “Necrocosmosis”, which probably is my favourite track from the whole split. I can risk saying that Empheris has found their unique style and sound. Really great music, with lots of cool ideas, awesome riffs and vocals, with many tempo changes and song structures, which are more detailed and extended, not so simple and basic anymore… Just look at the song lengths… “Necrocosmosis” goes for almost nine minutes and really, a lot is going on during that time. So, well done Empheris… yet again! But now, please do a new full length album, it is about time for one hehe!
Then we have Purifier with two songs. This band was formed by Ronve (Conquest Icon, ex Taran and ex Ebola) on vocals with Empherion (from Empheris) on guitars and Imp (Empheric, Conquest Icon) on drums / bass. This band is more sort of straight forward, fast black metal, but really cool. I like how fast and intense is their music and that despite that, it still has some room for more diversity, even slightly melodic parts. I don’t know, if it’s because Empherion did some extra vocals here, but it does remind me Empheris a little, but maybe in more violent black metal version. “Descent of Reverent Souls” is awesome song, but “...And Blood Ran the Avenues of Warsaw” really caught my attention with cool Polish lyrics and great feeling. It sounds really cool! Purifier is about to record some new songs, so I cannot wait to hear them, it can be bloody good in my opinion.
Conquest Icon next… I realize I should know this band, because their debut CD “Hellspire” has been released in 2010, but damn it, I never had a chance to hear it. When I listen to their three songs from “We Are the Ancients” I am slightly surprised, as I actually expected kind of brutal death metal, for some reasons… I don’t even know why… Anyway, Conquest Icon plays something what is more like black / death metal, if you wanna know. Many of their riffs are sounding like classic death metal, but quite few are more in the black metal vein and the same goes for the vocals, which are the mix of growl (Andy) and scream / shriek (Ronve). And it is fine mixture, I truly enjoyed it. Fast, aggressive, uncompromising and fuckin vicious, reminding me such Belphegor a lot, just listen to “I Annihilate” or “Remnants” – die! I think I finally must search for “Hellspire” then.
Wraith is a band consisting of Empherion (guitars, vocals), Nymphobh (bass) and Helvete from Empheris (drums). This band is… OK, but nothing as good as three previous ones. Somehow their songs just sound like outtakes from Empheris with riffs, which were not good enough for their main band, but were decent to be used anywhere at all – and the choice was Wraith. Anyway, it is nothing special, just a mediocre black / thrash metal, with quite melodic riffs here and there like in “...And Thou Shalt Decay”… but the problem is that one song passes by, then another and none of them caused any serious damage to my hearing or body… It is OK, but nothing special.
Finally the last band, called Necroist, with the line up consisting of Empherion (guitars, vocals), Nymphobh (bass) and Imp (drums). They offer just one, but quite lengthy song, “Trinity of Necroism”, which is 13 minutes long. And the music? Well, it is just straight forward, classic black metal. And this one sounds really good – good production, lots of fast tempos, great atmosphere within this music and lots of dynamics, variety… I’m not gonna say that it is the best piece of black metal, which I have heard in a long time, because it is not, but it is very decent and certainly I like this project more than Wraith. Besides, the music reminds me some old Polish black metal bands like Sacrilegium, but with better production. So, really cool stuff here!
Final rate: 75/100

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Throneum - Pestilent Death

THRONEUM - Pestilent Death (APOCALYPTOR - LP 2005)
Throneum is one of those bands, which hardly ever disappoint and I think I can risk saying that every album, which the band from Bytom has released, is a worthy dose of obscure, morbid and chaotic death metal. “Pestilent Death” released in 2005 by Australian Apocalytor Records, is also yet another killer LP in their discography and even if I admit that I have enjoyed the previous LP “Mutiny of Death” a little bit more, this one is also truly excellent and shouldn’t disappoint the fans of the band. The album is actually a little bit weird; with just about 30 minutes of music it offers 15 songs, what is a lot and gives an average of something like 2 minutes per song. This will obviously bring a change in some song structures and arrangements but at the same time I think it only increases the dose of brutality and ferocity, that intensity of Throneum music. On this album I think they have even boosted their influence of chaotic and bestial death / black metal and so it truly stands proud on a side to such bands as Bestial Raids and Black Witchery, in my opinion, even if musically it is not necessarily exactly the same thing; BUT there are many COMMON aspects, many similar influences and general feeling. Throneum obviously creates sound and style of their own. As always.
Chris Moyen’s artwork is not the best really, but it definitely fits the music – bestial, guts ripping and just brutal as fuck. Generally the album is soaked with the obscure, sordid feeling and it is just super fast most of the time. If you listen to such song as the opener “Cadaveric Cult (Varf-Shub-Niggurath)” then you may realize how nasty and uncompromising this album is, how utterly disgusting, but still somehow it just catches the attention with awesome, throat cutting riffs, furious vocals of Tom (which as always are very, very characteristic) and filthy, rough production. The whole material is rather simple; mainly because as I mentioned the songs are rather short, so the band just concentrate more on the devastation and pure straight forward noise attack – you have maybe couple of riffs, full blast on and rage, with lyrics, which are also short, but straight to the point, with no bullshit. It is impressive, how Throneum manages to create the atmosphere here, while the music is still so vicious… and at the same time “Pestilent Death” has also such songs as awesome “Evil Worship”, which is slower, bestial anthem. And in such song as “Queen Goat Whore” Throneum peaks, with some of the best vocal work and guitar playing of the whole album. From the other hand I must confess that “Cruel Flesh Devourement” is kind of less exciting songs for me, it’s just too chaotic and doesn’t stand out with anything special. Both this one and also “We Summon Thee” feel like unfinished songs; they end too abruptly, which is somehow weird. But this is only my impression… Side B again offers some killer songs though like “I Invoke You, Gods of the Night” and “Pestilent Death”, which maybe even be my favourite song from the whole LP, even if it is way slower when compared to such “The Way Through Dungeon Tombs”. But maybe because it is slower, it also just stands above the rest of the material and thus sticks in your head immediately. To be honest though, I think I have nothing to complain about the whole album. It really provides a lot of killer music and as always Throneum just destroys. I mentioned this may not be my favourite album of theirs, but it still is better than 99% of everything what is released nowadays and is just damn awesome.
Standout tracks: “Pestilent Death”, “I Invoke You, Gods of the Night”, “Queen Goat Whore”, “Cadaveric Cult (Varf-Shub-Niggurath)”, “Evil Worship”
Final rate: 80/100

Evil Machine - War In Heaven

EVIL MACHINE - War In Heaven (ARACHNOPHOBIA Records - CD 2013)
Here we celebrate two debuts: one of Arachnophobia Records and second of the band called Evil Machine. The latter has been formed by Cyjan from Dead Infection, who was supported by Hal (Vader, Abused Majesty, Hermh) and Cyprian (Hate, Pyorrhoea). They worked long to get their debut CD done… the whole process must have been a struggle for the band, as it took them about seven years to record “War in Heaven”. Luckily for us the band had enough determination to finish it and now we can finally listen to Evil Machine… I guess it is also very important to mention that the band invited some great guest musicians to leave their trace on their music, what certainly spiced up the entire album and made it even more interesting. And I can admit that now, when I’ve listened to “War in Heaven” about 20 times, I really fuckin like this album a lot.
I do admit though that my first impression was just mediocre. I guess I expected to hear slightly different kind of music; considering the band’s name, the artwork for the album, band’s photos and everything around it I actually thought it will be truly fast, uncompromising, evil and utterly bestial war metal. Meanwhile “War in Heaven” is slightly different and stylistically it is a pure worship of the traditional metal of death, thrash and black, mainly influenced by the cult records from the 80’s. If I mention here such classic bands as Hellhammer, Samael, Venom, (early) Sodom and Kreator, Rotting Christ, Varathron, with some Australian bands, then you may have some idea about the music of Evil Machine with its archaic riffs, mainly slow or mid paced tempo (you’ll find fast blasting tempo only couple of times like in killer “Cross Meant Death”), ghoulish vocals, obscure, evil atmosphere and that feeling, passion...
And as I mentioned on the first listen I wasn’t much impressed… hmm, maybe I didn’t pay enough attention, but with every next listen this music grew on me and now I am able to worship it. Evil Machine really did awesome job here, composed several killer tracks, arranged them perfectly and with the diversity of the music plus with some killer surprises, “War in Heaven” is just an essential album. That diversity may actually be one of the stronger factors of Evil Machine. There are songs, which are close to Hellhammer, some other are more like old, archaic thrash and finally there’re also moments, which personally remind me the old Greek scene. Arrghhh, just listen to the song called “Diabeł” – it is probably my favourite track from “War in Heaven”, quite different to the rest of the material, but with such a malignant atmosphere, some awesome riffs and most importantly with great guest vocals of Cezar from the almighty Christ Agony. Another songs, which I just must recommend are “Four Demons of Apocalypse”, “Cross Meant Death”, “Bloody Emperor”, “Jerusodoma” and finally also “Evil Machine”… Each offers something truly awesome and has something characteristic, if not a riff, which will make you bang your head like crazy then it is a memorable chorus. But really, every song here is damn good and with two covers (of which I especially like the vicious version of old Onslaught classic) it turns out that “War in Heaven” is close to… I don’t want to say perfection, because it’s not “To Mega Therion”, but for me it nailed this kind of music brilliantly and if after listening to it I still have some songs massacring the guts inside me then it means this is a more than just a good album. Recommended!
Standout tracks: “Diabeł”, “Four Demons of Apocalypse”, “Cross Meant Death”, “Bloody Emperor”, “Jerusodoma”
Final rate: 80/100

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Authorize - story

Everything started already in the Autumn 1988, so quite early, when the band called MORBID FEAR was created in place called Söderdala. The guys that formed MORBID FEAR were Larssa Johansson – guitar / vocals, Patrik "Putte" Leander – bass, Micke Swed – drums (he and Micke both knew each other for quite some time and even tried to play in a band before MORBID FEAR, in school group called SWEET NIGHT) and Jörgen Paulsson – guitar, although at the beginning they tried different vocalist, who soon quit and was replaced by Larssa (they even tried to record a demo with him, but the result was more than bad). In autumn of 1989, after playing some gigs, the band recorded another demo, hugely inspired by legends like TESTAMENT and SLAYER, and this one turned out much better, although nowadays it’s completely unavailable. The real debut, something that was promoted in the underground, was a demo tape called “Darkest Age” which MORBID FEAR recorded in April 1990 at FS Studios. The tape was released in about 200 copies and contained few thrashing compositions; the band didn’t have much – if had any at all – similarities to the typical Swedish death metal. Anyway the demo got small attention for MORBID FEAR within the underground. But after that the band decided to change the moniker for AUTHORIZE – all because of the
similarity of their old moniker to MORBID ANGEL. After few more gigs (one with THERION and CREMATORY) an offer for the split 7”EP comes. AUTHRORIZE puts “Darkest Age” song, nicely rearranged, shortened and re-mixed. The split EP was released by OPINIONATE! Records in 1990 and the bands it included were also NIRVANA 2002, APPENDIX and FALLEN ANGEL. In the meantime Thomas "Bizzon" Ek joins the band as vocalist, giving much rawer and deeper vocals comparing to what MORBID FEAR had on their demo. AUTHORIZE changed their style quite much then – it wasn’t SEPULTURA / PESTILENCE / EXODUS influenced thrash metal anymore, but the music became more brutal death metal. The band got then a contract from PUTREFACTION Records to do an album, so AUTHORIZE entered FS Studios again in January 1991 and with producer Bror Tornell a debut full length was born. It was titled “The Source of Damnation” and surely it was a great step forward for AUTHORIZE. Although it has three songs from the demo you’ll hardly recognise them as they’ve been played in completely different way and totally rearranged. First of all they’re really slow! Second, they’re damn heavy and massive; brutal and slow again! Anyway, this was the last sign of AUTHORIZE existence. Right after this CD the band just split up. And maybe it’s for better that it happened like this, as I’ve heard that the band really wanted to experiment bit more, their drummer – Micke Swed – even played jazz and wanted to put that into their music. So, maybe we’ve avoided another “Spheres” – like album. In 2006 Chilean ARSENAL OF GLORY re-released “The Source of Damnation” on CD, including also MORBID FEAR demo. It’s great that they wanted to remind fans about AUTHORIZE. Also in 2010 CRYPT Records has unleashed a wonderfully looking vinyl version of “The Source of Damnation” with “Darkest Age” demo and 7”EP songs as a bonus. All packed in killer gatefold cover, with huge poster and high quality print and music. A must for the collectors for sure.
The Source of Damnation (CD 1991 – PUTREFACTION Records / THE CRYPT LP 2012)
Recorded: Recorded at F.S Studio January 1991. Produced and Mixed By Bror Tornell and AUTHORIZE.
Recording line up: Larssa Johansson – guitar, Patrik "Putte" Leander – bass, Micke Swed – drums and Jörgen Paulsson – guitar, Thomas "Bizzon" Ek - vocals
Review: AUTHORIZE from Söderdala surely is not the most popular and exciting band from the old Swedish death metal scene. I think that there will be quite few maniacs that don't even know them; I also discovered this band maybe in 2009. But what can you expect, if originally “The Source of Damnation” was released by small PURTEFACTION Records in probably hilariously small number of copies and this version of the album costs fortune now. But even the 2006 re-release from ARSENAL OF GLORY (which includes demo material as a bonus) isn’t that easy to get (I’m not sure if this isn’t a bootleg?). Luckily I managed to bought the vinyl pressing from the mighty The Crypt Productions - as always vinyl from this label looks just amazing. Anyway, it’s good to finally have a chance to listen to this album and include another Swedish band among the eternal favourites from that scene! And that's because surely AUTHORIZE doesn't disappoint. The intro may be too long a bit, but suddenly “Silent Nocturnal Symphony” attacks and I get to know really cool Swedish band, which doesn’t really sound like your typical Swedish favourites. To my opinion AUTHORIZE reminds such acts like BANISHED, ASPHYX or early MORGOTH, which is great I guess – with the difference that the Swedes like to put also some melodies here and there. Well, there may be one Swedish act, which AUTHORIZE could have taken some influences from. I’m talking about the very early THERION. Such track as “Broken Hypnosis” brings me back the feeling similar to the one I love from “Of Darkness…” LP. Do I like it? Fuck, you bet I do. Especially the song I just mentioned – it’s really great, even has keyboards and wonderful melodic fragment in the middle part (surprisingly the same song recorded under the moniker MORBID FEAR doesn’t sound even half as great ha, ha). But basically every track here is solid and brings massive, even memorable tunes. Like “Subconscious Nightmare”, with its slow and damn heavy chorus part and epic ending or “God of Christianity”, which is quite slow and sounds like damn ASPHYX!!!! Most of the songs are played in similar, mid paced or even slow tempos, what can seem bit monotonous to some, but that’s not true. The atmosphere of the recording is really dark and horror-like, so definitely I can say there’s nothing missing here. It’s also worth to mention that this album has nothing to do with the AUTHORIZE demo’s more thrash metal style. Even the songs that are “re-recordings” of the demo tracks sound completely different and I doubt anyone would recognize them if they didn’t have the same titles. AUTHORIZE was then just completely different band and even if I don't like the "Darkest Age" demo, then “The Source of Damnation” is simply yet another jewel from the early 90’s that I join to my collection.
Best song: “Broken Hypnosis”, “Subconscious Nightmare”
Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 22 November 2013

Pentacle - Ancient Death

PENTACLE - Ancient Death (DAMNATION Records - CD 2001)
In my honest opinion Pentacle is still one of the most underrated European death metal bands ever. They’re kind of band, which obviously has a legion of dedicated fans, but considering the quality of their music and also how long they’ve been active it would feel more appropriate to me if they have gained more attention and their status would be close to Asphyx at least. Anyway, I just have a feeling that only a group of dedicated underground death metal maniacs really appreciate them. Hmm, maybe it’s because Pentacle has only two full length LPs in their discography, most of their stuff was limited and released by smaller, underground labels and most importantly, Pentacle were not so active in the recent years, due to the dedication of Wannes Gubbels to Asphyx? Who knows, but I really hope that slowly and slowly Pentacle will start rebuilding their position on the death metal scene (which for me they’ve never lost and always have been somewhere there on its top!). Recently the Dutch maniacs have released couple of split 7”EPs, which I also have, but here I would like to write some words about one of my favourite Pentacle recordings, which is “Ancient Death” MCD from 2001. It was originally issued by Damnation Records, but I regret that I only have the CD, while I would really love to have it on vinyl, as all the other Pentacle stuff, which I have in my collection, I have on vinyl… Anyway, maybe one day I will be able to get what I want, meanwhile it is just better to enjoy this absolutely killer and essential death metal and bang the skull when listening to some of the best riffs ever composed by death metal band!
Yeah, I really fuckin love “Ancient Death”. This MCD, for me, is just perfect and the content of it is very special. First off, there are three Pentacle tracks, which are exclusive to this MCD. Then there’s a re-recorded version of their old demo classic ("Descending of the Soul" from "Winds of the Fall", Demo, 1993) and finally we also get two covers… Hmm, someone would moan that covers are usually nothing interesting. Fuck off, personally I like when bands play some classic songs in their own versions, so I am a fan of covers. And these two covers on “Ancient Death” are kind of special, because Pentacle didn’t chose the same stuff, which hundreds of other bands have done, but took Mantas’ awesome classic “Legion of Doom” (originally from 1984 demo "Death by Metal”) and Death’s “Witch of Hell” (from "Reign of Terror" demo 1984). And that second choice is especially worthy, as usually people would choose something more known from band like Death (“Zombie Ritual” for example), but Pentacle went for their demo song! And you know, with all respect to Death, but their demos sounded awful, you can barely hear a shit there, not to mention that their skills at that time were poor, so it is very interesting that Pentacle is giving a new life to such song as “Witch of Hell”. Now I can listen to this song with pleasure, more so because it never ended on any Death album. “Legion of Doom” is more known, but originally the production on this Mantas demo was also pretty bad, so I really like that idea to exhume and resurrect such ancient death metal songs.
But let’s start from beginning, shall we? And first is “Prophet of Perdition”, which surely is one of my favourite Pentacle songs ever! Awesome riffs, great vocals and truly memorable song – this is all you should know about it. It makes awesome impression, with this feeling of classic extreme metal, which will have a lot of similarity to the Hellhammer / Celtic Frost, but in few moments I can even spot some Obituary, Death and obviously also the mighty Asphyx. Perfect tune to start! Then we have "Descending of the Soul" – and damn… I actually don’t know the original version, never had a chance to hear any Pentacle demos, but this is just very good song. It is kind of slower, maybe slightly more melodic, but with some vicious and ravaging stuff as well. I only wonder how much they have improved the arrangements comparing this version to the old demo stuff… And if you think that “Descending…” is slightly too slow, then “Immolated in Flames” will cheer you up, as this song sounds almost like a thrash metal classic, with these whipping riffs and dynamics. It will keep punching you until you bleed out, trust me. “Walking Upon Damnation's Land” is the epic song… I love these powerful, fast riffs, that viciousness and aggression of this song and the amazing vocals, which have been shared between Wannes and K.K. Warslut from D666. And with that memorable chorus part it couldn’t get any better in my opinion. This, along with “Prophet of Perdition”, is the best part of “Ancient Death”. As for the covers, they both sound fantastic, but I especially love “Legion of Doom”, which is such a killer and catchy death metal classic that is just impossible to resist. For me Pentacle recorded its perfect version, really!!!!!!!! “Witch of Hell” is also superb though… I like it also because I am not so much familiar with the original version (this is one of the few Death songs, which never been recorded for their albums), so it just shreds to pieces.
Standout tracks: “Prophet of Perdition”, “Legion of Doom”, “Walking Upon Damnation's Land”
Final rate: 90/100