Thursday, 31 July 2014

Archives of the Dead part XIII: Abominog - Grotesque Humanity

Archives of the Dead part XIII: ABOMINOG - Grotesque Humanity (With Your Teeth Records - EP 1990)
Line up: Chris Yuastella (Vocals), Keith Lyons (Guitars), Pete Reid (Bass), Juan Figueroa (Drums)
Recorded and mixed at the House Of Horrors Studios, November 12/18, 1990
Life would be too beautiful if everything what was recorded and released back in the early 90’s and was death metal, was also equal to something utterly awesome and cult. Sure, we all know many classic 90’s bands and awesome records, demos, EPs. And there are also many bands and recordings, which we still don’t know, waiting to be discovered and which probably are also fuckin cool. But let’s be honest – the scene in the early / mid 90’s was not perfect and with many leaders there were also many followers; bands, which had nothing interesting to offer, recording a lot of mediocre or shitty stuff. And here is one such material – Abominog’s EP titled “Grotesque Humanity” from 1990. I bet there will be some people, who will say that it is awesome and cult recording, just because it was released in 1990! But don’t get fooled by that. It is even less than mediocre death metal and honestly, I personally can’t find anything in it what would make me like this band. Their “Dark Museum” album was not bad, but still rather average, similar to bands like Judecca, speaking of the quality, but “Grotesque Humanity” is just bad.
“Grotesque Humanity” is basically two songs: the title one and “World War Gore”. Musically it is typical brutal death metal made in USA, and as such it mainly reminds me Baphomet. But really, Abominog is not even half as great as Baphomet! These two songs are somewhere between fairly good and utterly mediocre, sometimes getting close to just bad, having plenty of dull moments and bad vocals (especially those screaming voices are shit and ruin the whole thing even more, but the more common grunt is also weak as fuck)… OK, there are some good riffs as well. The main problem with “Grotesque Humanity” is that the production of this EP is just weak and makes it sound only damn boring and unimpressive! There is no soul, no power and no lethal energy in it; even the vocals sound damn lifeless. Maybe if the sound was better, thicker, more brutal and killer, then the whole EP would make a better impression? Who knows? Sincerely I doubt though if a better production would help Abominog anyway, as all in all this material is just mediocre and typical as hell, totally forgettable… and truly, back in those days there were dozens of better bands, including the almighty Baphomet.
Abominog has also released three other demos, if I remember correctly and one full length album… As I mentioned “Dark Museum” is not fairly good, but also often torn between some killer and shitty moments, but “Grotesque Humanity” with its total mediocrity does not invite me to check the demos. Not terribly bad EP – as there are even worse things around – but still nothing interesting.

Final rate: 45/100

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Betrayer / Neolith - Beware / Of the Angel and His Orison

BETRAYER / NEOLITH - Beware / Of the Angel and His Orison (FALLEN TEMPLE - Split 7"EP 2014)
Here is a very special seven inch! Why? Because it contains a brand new song from the resurrected Betrayer! And yes, I know that nowadays many old bands are coming back from the dead, some only intend doing few gigs, some decide to record new music (and that in 90% of the cases turns into something totally mediocre and forgettable, proving that we wouldn’t lose anything if these bands never reformed)… But Betrayer was always kind of special band for me, as they along with some other Polish death metal bands, were one of my truly favourites back in the early 90’s. I loved to listen to “Necromantical Exmortis” and later when I bought “Calamity” cassette I was simply blown away. Now, 20 years later, I am able to listen to the new song from Betrayer and for me it is like a special event, you know?
OK, it is only one song, titled “Beware” (which I already knew from the video the band did few months ago), but it is great enough to rise interest and appetite for some more! Yes! What I like about “Beware” is how natural it sounds, not like something what was forced because of the current trends or something… And it sounds old school, because this is old band and Berial was there, back in the early 90’s! What I also like is that while some of these old crews, which came back decided either to update their sound and style into more modern stuff or forced themselves to play something what sounds not natural and passionless, but in case of Betrayer it is the opposite! “Beware” has a wonderful, harsh and organic production and the song simply sounds like old, classic death metal. Great riffs and vocals, a lot of diversity within one track (slower parts, some more melodic leads and even fast, blasting stuff… do you need anything more?!). It is really good track and after hearing it I can only hope to hear some more from Betrayer!
But hold on! Betrayer’s “Beware” is on side A, while on side B there’s a new song from band called Neolith. And I must be honest here – I’ve never been much into this band. I have heard some of their early stuff and it was just boring doomy death metal, so typical for the end of the 90’s Polish scene that it quickly got forgotten. And maybe it is why I never bothered to check any recordings of Neolith from the 00’s. But after hearing this split with Betrayer I must update my collection quickly, because “Of the Angel and His Orison” sounds truly fuckin awesome. When compared to Betrayer, this song sounds more like modern extreme death / black metal stuff, maybe even close to other Polish giants like Hate and Behemoth, but damn, it is great anyway! Very powerful and aggressive, very energetic and perfectly sounding, blasting stuff, with some truly killer riffs and ideas. Yes, I liked it a lot. Definitely Neolith turned out to be a great surprise, something I did not expect to be that good! And I suppose there’s only one thing, which I do not like – which are some of the background keyboard parts used in few moments, but it is nothing what would make me dislike the whole song. No way! “Of the Angel and His Orison” is really damn awesome!

Final rate: 80/100

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Genius Ultor - Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce

GENIUS ULTOR - Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce (ARACHNOPHOBIA - CD 2014)
I already managed to almost forget about such project as Genius Ultor, although couple of years ago I gave their debut album “Dzień nocy” quite a positive review. To those, who’re not familiar with Genius Ultor let me just say that it is a project of the members of Stillborn, who’re quite respected death / black metal band here in Poland. But the debut CD of GU was released in 2010! Since then the silence has covered the project and the only sign of life from those guys was Stillborn’s “Los Asesinos del Sur” album… and then Ataman Tolovy was active solo, recording several materials for his killer project called Turin Turambar. But finally the time was right to do another Genius Ultor, whose second album came through Arachnophobia – and that is another really awesome release from this small underground label! Yes, I still can’t shake off after the magnificent Odraza “Esperalem tkane” CD and the label attacks with Genius Ultor! Trust me, I spent last couple of weeks, listening to “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” and this album gets better and better with every listen. I mean, I was impressed since the beginning, really, but now when I know all these songs pretty well I am also finally ready to review the album and I am also sure that it won’t be an exaggeration or some ass-kissing, if I say that it’s yet another awesome Polish black metal album!
But there can be a debate whether we should call “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” a black metal at all? Not that it would really matter, I suppose that the band won’t give a damn shit about labelling their music… but the fact is that Genius Ultor is far away from the typical, classically meant black metal releases from Scandinavia. Some Polish bands, just like the mentioned Odraza, have created some sort of unique sound and style, special feeling and atmosphere, and even if their music is rooted in the black metal style, then combined with this uniqueness the result is just something different and something out of ordinary. And Genius Ultor is also such exceptional band. Another thing is whether an album like “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” will be able to speak and reach to non Polish listeners, as I have a feeling like they won’t be able to understand it at all… just look at the lyrics. All texts on “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” have a special character, are unordinary. They are also, together with the very characteristic vocal sound of Wirus, responsible for creating the atmosphere on the album. So, if you don’t understand the lyrics, then you may lose the essence of the whole material. So, better learn Polish, if you want to find out what “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” is all about!
So, the vocals and lyrics do give something unique to the album. But the music I dare to say is also far from typical black metal stuff. Sure, Genius Ultor managed to create a dense, thick and black as a tar, dark and sick atmosphere! Yes, some of these riffs are almost hypnotizing, but the whole album is full of variety and there are many slower, mid and fast parts spread through all seven tracks. But that diversity, along with quite original way of playing and arranging the songs and vocals, are what makes the album so interesting. Many great riffs, many totally killer parts… and every song will surprise with something awesome and memorable. The title song, then “Koniec wszystkiego co znamy”, “Zwycięstwo” – these songs will show you what Genius Ultor is all about. And in the end we have an acoustic track titled “Krew nie woda”, which is based on Impaled Nazarene “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”… OK, I don’t remember the original at all, as last time I have listened to anything from Impaled Nazarene was over a decade ago (I’m just not a fan!), but this acoustic song, with great harsh or clean vocals sound fantastic and so weird hehe! It just shows that bands like Genius Ultor have no boundaries… Also in such “Koniec wszystkiego co znamy” you’ll find a mid part, which is so far away from the known and common black metal playing. But that’s the strength of this band, especially when they put such fragment between fast, blasting black metal! Sometimes the music has the simplicity and dirtiness of old punk, just like in “Kataryniarz”, which is filthy, vulgar, uncompromising and aggressive… and cold as dead. And if there’s a song, which really is close to Impaled Nazarene, then it probably is “Zło przenajświętsze”.
Bands like Genius Ultor have their own vision for extreme music and black metal. Albums like “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” are brave and unordinary, and I am not sure whether everyone will really enjoy this stuff, for it’s just not like the typical black metal. And there are these vocals and lyrics, which will probably sound so weird for non Polish listeners... maybe this is why we, Poles, worship such albums and at the same time they don’t reach as many maniacs abroad. But come on! You all listen to Norwegian, German or French lyrics, so do that also with Polish black metal and I can assure you that “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce” will strike you hard and won’t leave you careless. This is simply a very good album, indeed!
Standout tracks: “Nic co boskie nie jest mi obce”, „Zwycięstwo”, “Koniec wszystkiego co znamy”, „Kataryniarz”

Final rate: 85/100

Morthus - The Abyss

MORTHUS - The Abyss (Self financed CD 2014)
Just look at that! What a sign of times it is that a complete newcomer and unknown band is able to self release their demo (or they called it an EP??) in such professional and cool way! Nowadays you simply don’t need a big budget and record label behind you to have a CD or digipack financed. Of course it also means that every crap can be now released “officially” and this way the scene is flooded with millions of anonymous bands, anonymous EPs / albums or whatever, of which many are probably totally worthless, but that’s not something what really takes away sleep from me. If there are such possibilities, then it’s nothing wrong that people take the chance and use it… and if the music sucks, then even the best packaging won’t help and that CD shall be flashed in the toiled. Here is a band called Morthus, which is quite young Polish band and they just really nicely self released their three tracker titled “The Abyss”. Quality digipack, great artwork… all looks really nice here, so congrats to the band for having such a cool idea for the digipack! Luckily for the band, the music is also decent and good enough, so it is not a wasted money and time!
I’m not saying that “The Abyss” impressed and crushed me totally. No, it’s not that good, but I am also far from saying it is worthless. I actually really like this demo, I like these songs and the whole experience when listening to “The Abyss” was more than positive. Sure, Morthus is still rather a second league band, kind of mediocre, but when I listen to their music I can see a lot of potential to become something better and better and it’s worthy not only to listen to “The Abyss” and enjoy three quite good songs, but it’s also worthy to remember the band name, ‘cause who knows what will they be capable of in the future? Musically it is quite melodic death metal, with a small hint of black metal a’la Sweden. I guess I can say that such Dissection, especially from “Reinkaos” LP, was a great influence for Morthus… just listen to “In the White Wolf’s Kingdom”, which I think is the best track here. But really all three songs from “The Abyss” are good, maybe sometimes too melodic for my taste (yeah hehe!) and sometimes I would prefer some faster, more aggressive and crushing stuff, but what the hell… it is definitely good enough to enjoy several listens. What else… good production, some cool riffs (like the opening old school theme for “Beast from the Abyss”), nice vocals arrangements and song structures, divided between more aggressive and melodic stuff... Morthus has everything people like in this sort of playing. So, keep your eyes open for the future of this young band.

Final rate: 70/100

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Judecca - Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond

JUDECCA - Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond (Dan's Crypt Records - CD 2013)
Many times I have said that I like the idea of re-releasing some old, long time unavailable albums or even better - compilations of old demos, EPs and whatever else you can find from the old days… Great thing is that the labels started to exhume many less known or sometimes even totally unknown bands, so this way these re-issues give them kind of a second life. Hmm, maybe not always everything from the past is utterly excellent and perfect, not everything can be called cult and classic, some bands were more mediocre, but you know… we don’t have to buy everything. And if we do, then such compilations quickly become a fine lesson in the history of death metal. I say death metal, because this genre gets more attention and travels into the past more than any other around these days. Here is another such piece of ancient death metal, a compilation, which will introduce you to American band called Judecca. You must admit that this Florida based band, active between 1991-96 has never been as known as some other famous Floridian acts… “Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond” compiles almost all – if not all? – their recordings, which were "Scenes of an Obscure Death" demo (1993), "Awakened by the Stench of the Dead" EP (1993), "Beyond, What the Eyes Can't See..." album (1996) and finally "Eternal Rest" demo (1992). I must admit that I only briefly knew the full length album of Judecca before, I think I have listened to it several times in the past, but I remembered completely nothing from it, so definitely “Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond” seemed to be a lesson I needed to get to know Judecca. Am I now happy with the music of this old band? Well, as I mentioned there were some killer and more mediocre bands back in the past and for me Judecca was the latter, really. I am not saying that they were bad, oh no… they were OK, but when I listen to this compilation I truly have a feeling that their death metal was nothing exceptional, but just typical and average… Or let’s just say that they had better and worse recordings in their short discography.
Definitely the best thing, which Judecca has recorded was their full length album "Beyond, What the Eyes Can't See...". One of the main reasons for that is the fact that it has the best production from all their recordings. Really, most of Judecca stuff did not sound the best and that was taking away a lot of goodness from them. The album also has pretty rough and truly underground production, it is nothing even close to the clear and powerful Floridian productions, which you can find in other, more popular, bands… It is nothing similar to Morrisound for example… So, in that case it may lack that powerful, massive sound, which would nail you to the ground, but as it is, it sounds fine for me anyway. I am not gonna complain much about it here. The album is pretty short, with barely 25 minutes on the clock and nine songs in total, so each is like a quick punch in the face. There are some very good tracks here, and definitely Judecca was getting better and better, when comparing material from the album to their demos. Better arrangements, more brutal and aggressive stuff, often faster and more technical… take such “The Undead” for example, what a fine opener! But the whole album is very solid and I definitely like it. And if you like some sick stuff, then surely such lyrics as “The Stench of an Undouched Cunt” will be perfect for all you anal sex lovers hehe!
Sadly, not all stuff, which Judecca recorded was so good… Take such "Scenes of an Obscure Death" demo for example. Not only it is a bad sounding stuff, but it is so deprived of the powerful energy… damn! Death metal riffs should crush you, be damn heavy and brutal, while in case of this demo it is just completely flat. The drums are like a rehearsal, guitars have no power and brutality… The material on this demo is just mediocre, to be honest, it is very simple, not to say it is just primitive, archaic, basic death metal… Sure, some such old demos grew old really well, but this is not something what I can say about "Scenes of an Obscure Death". Not a bad demo, but not one, which I would really love. Probably the song called “Evil Born” is the best one here, also “Necrosis”, with some nice “Leprosy” era Death like riffs, but quality wise far away from the legends. Listen to such songs like “Left to Die” (oh, these Neanderthal riffs, simple drums and truly awful guitar solo!!!! Primitive to the bone!) and tell me if they really can blow you away. I doubt that. Mediocre, nothing more than that.
Luckily “Awakened by the Stench of the Dead” EP is much better, it is really cool single, with not bad sounding three songs. I like “The Black Blood of Christ” probably the most, as it is so different to the other songs, with kind of sorrowful touch in it and lots of acoustic guitar parts thrown within the whole song structure. On this EP you’ll find also a new version of “Evil Born”, which obviously sounds even better than on the demo. And finally there’s also “Eternal Rest” demo, which was Judecca debut recording... Again, very raw and harsh sound, very archaic death metal, but I think I like this demo more than "Scenes of an Obscure Death", because it is faster and more intense, more relentless and the production is also more what I like... There are some fine songs here, for example listen to the title track – what a killer tune it is! And these keyboards… damn, that was something unusual for a Floridian death metal band!
So, this is everything what Judecca has recorded. As I mentioned already several times before, for me it was rather average death metal band, not one, which you could put in your top 50, but on the other hand they were good enough to be listened to and have such a tribute, which this compilation CD is. All in all, we love such lessons in death metal history, don’t we? I do, so I had a lot of joy, when listening to “Awakened by an Eternal Death and Beyond”. And even if it is rather mediocre band, then this compilation is still worthy to get, for example for the “Beyond, What the Eyes Can't See...”, which is really cool. The whole CD comes with 12 page booklet, sadly what I miss here is the band’s detailed history, maybe some words from the band members or an interview… maybe also some more old photos… you know, all the archive, which is essential on such compilation. But you will find here all the lyrics, which is also OK, I guess.

Final rate: 70/100

Dragon - Horda Goga

DRAGON - Horda Goga (WIFON - LP 1989)
I hope that this review shall remind you – and to some, this review will probably only introduce – an album, which I think is quite forgotten nowadays. So maybe it is a time to bring attention to it again, as it deserves it totally! Personally I consider this debut album of Dragon as one of the best Polish albums recorded in the 80’s and more so, together with Kat’s “Oddech wymarłych swiatów” (which will always be my number one of the 80’s!), it is in my top two. So, here I have this old vinyl version released by Wifon and every time I play it, it is just a pure slaughter! Of course some may prefer the English version of “Horda Goga”, titled “Horde of Gog”, which was released a year later … but I guess it doesn’t matter. Actually I’m thinking and really I can’t remember if I have ever even heard the English version? Why bother? Well, interesting fact about both versions is that each was recorded with a different vocalist - “Horde of Gog” was recorded with Grzegorz Kupczyk from Turbo, not by Marek Wojcieski, who you can hear on “Horda Goga”. More so, the rumour says that the band didn’t even know that the label made Kupczyk record English versions of the vocals hehe! Hardly believable these days, but back in the 80’s everything was possible. So, I don’t even care about “Horde of Gog”, I just play “Horda Goga” and enjoy some truly awesome songs! And trust me, there are nine killer tunes on this vinyl!
First thing, which you’ll notice is the total old school artwork! It is typical 80’s heavy metal cover, you know… dragons, executioners, death… All these fantasy artworks look killer though! And then the music! “Horda Goga” is a thrash / death metal masterpiece, bursting with aggression and energy, with killer, razor sharp riffs, which will cut you deep and great atmosphere, characteristic for these early extreme metal records. And especially in Poland, such sort of thrash / death had its own charm and was something very characteristic, something what later was never repeated… You know, listen to the early demo recordings of such Vader, Armagedon, Merciless Death, Thanatos or Manslaughter – they all have something in common. They were unique in their own way, with the typical raw Polish production, killer thrashing riffs mixed with early death metal aggression, fantastic harsh vocals… And “Horda Goga” is another fine and exact example for that! More so (as I already mentioned) for me it is together with “Oddech wymarłych swiatów”, the best 80’s Polish metal album! So amazing!
When you listen to “Horda Goga” today you feel how archaic this LP is! This is a real relict of the ancient times, of the early extreme metal scene and you know, today no one plays like this anymore. Show me a band, who would have such sound, such riffs and ideas and more so, who would have vocals like that! Because vocals on “Horda Goga” are of the best and most characteristic things of it! Marek Wojcieski did excellent job here, singing some brilliant parts and mixing harsh screams, growls with clean vocals… Clean vocals, used mainly in choruses, are something, what you’ll remember especially. They sound bloody awesome. Wojcieski sometimes reminds me Roman Kostrzewski, but it is just another quality. And the effect is amazing, if you listen to such songs as “Wieczne odpoczywanie, “Beliar” or “Armagedon”. Musically, you can think of the 80’s thrash metal, of bands like Kat, Turbo, Merciless Death, mixed with some Possessed, “Show No Mercy” era Slayer, some vintage Metallica and the German monsters like Kreator and Destruction… Finally there’s also a feeling, which reminds me some South American extreme bands from late 80’s / early 90’s! But here it is aggressive thrash / death metal played in the East European way! But it is not just that! The arrangements, song structures are just impossibly good. A lot of killer riffs, which are aggressive, but often also melodic, so they remind me even some early Metallica (like the opening theme in “Here Comes the Dragon”)… The whole stuff is wonderfully composed, sounds perfect and it’s also memorable as hell; you’ll remember some of these choruses immediately and sing them next time! Personally I like song titled “Beliar” the most, because it seems to be the most vicious and dark track, with killer chorus: “Beliar – sługa Diabła!!!”. Damn good! “Kapłani zdrady” also belongs to these faster and more aggressive tunes, finally also “Wieczne odpoczywanie”, “Armagedon” (that opening theme actually reminds me some epic Bathory hehe! I LOVE IT!) are phenomenal. But all songs are killer, really.
“Horda Goga” is the best achievement of Dragon, in my opinion. Although back in the early 90’s I was more a fan of “Fallen Angel”, but nowadays this album bores me a little and is just not as good as “Horda Goga”. So, I totally recommend you listening to this Dragon debut LP, as it is unique and amazing piece of thrash death metal, one which just must be in your collection. To get the vinyl is very simple and cheap, so what are you waiting for?
Standout tracks: “Beliar”, “Wieczne odpoczywanie”, “Armagedon”, “Kapłani zdrady”
Final rate: 90/100

Fördärv - Between the Eternities

FORDARV - Between the Eternities (NIGREDO - CD 2014)
Not so long ago I had a chance to listen to Fördärv’s debut MCD “The Echo of Melancholy”, which was really awesome piece of traditional, maybe slightly sorrowful but harsh, black metal. Few weeks pass by and Nigredo Records has sent me another recording of Fördärv, which now is their debut full length CD titled “Between the Eternities”. I didn’t need a special invitation, I just wanted to listen to it right away, as the debut was really cool and it is just rare, when a black metal band can really catch my interest nowadays. And “The Echo of Melancholy” surely did. Now I have “Between the Eternities” in my stereo and certainly with this album Fördärv again nailed me to the ground and proved that the classic recipes of Scandinavian black metal are still alive and are possible to be played with passion and sincerity comparable to the old bands and days.
Already the front artwork for “Between the Eternities” reminds me some classic – in this case Norwegian – black metal covers; a lovely pencil artwork by the Polish master of art Zdzisław Beksiński is just amazing and looks perfectly good on the front of this album. And do you remember the black / white pencil artworks on early Burzum or Satyricon albums? This one fits them so well! I really mean that! As for the music, don’t expect anything new and unconventional from Fördärv, because as I already mentioned, this is more or less, but a classic, traditional take on Scandinavian black metal (with huge accent on the Norwegian cults). Mainly there is a great influence from Darkthrone, but also from such acts like Burzum, Satyricon, Immortal, Troll’s “Trollstorm over Nidingjuv” and so on and on… many to mention, I suppose. And then there are also newer bands, like Armagedda or Pest, which may have been also close to recapture the essence, style and sound of the norsk BM cult and which sound close to Fördärv. And now here is 2014’s “Between the Eternities” and well… it’s been 20 or more years since the Norwegian black metal scene has exploded, when the northern sky was ablaze, but there are still bands, which are capable of writing interesting, traditional tunes. And for me Fördärv with their “Between the Eternities” also belongs to that group. Who cares, if it is nothing original or that some of these patterns have been played numerous times before… If the music is good, then it is good, nothing more matters.
And trust me, there are several killer moments on “Between the Eternities”! Take for example the opening track “Legions of Death”… harsh vocals, almost kind of hypnotizing, mostly fast riffing, which carefully builds the cold, grim atmosphere… definitely it will remind you not just Darkthrone, but bands like Swedish Pest with “In Total Contempt” LP. But I enjoyed “Taedium Vitae” song even more, as I worship that kind of slower, darker, mesmerizing, sometimes kind of melancholic, atmospheric playing in it… More so, this lengthy track has some truly killer riffs, so all in all, this surely is one of the best moments on the album. And then “As Life Turns Black...” catches my attention, as it has a killer opening theme, which will resemble you both Bathory and Immortal. And maybe it is pity the band didn’t go even deeper into such epic territory, but I like that song a lot anyway. Yes, Fördärv music is simple, is unoriginal and maybe will say that it is nothing impressive… but who would give a damn? I don’t. In my opinion “Between the Eternities” is a perfect offer for the worshipers of the classic Scandinavian black metal. And that’s all you should know now. Support the band, support the label… get “Between the Eternities”!
Standout tracks: ”Legions of Death”, “Taedium Vitae”, “As Life Turns Black”

Final rate: 72/100

Mastabah - I Hate You

MASTABAH - I Hate You (Self released CD 2014)
I honestly am not so familiar with Mastabah previous releases, which were “Purity” EP 2007 and “Quintessence of Evil” 2010 album. I think I’ve never heard anything from these materials and probably everything I know about this band is that they were formed after Dark Legion split up (and that was a band I know about a little bit more, as they had couple of full length albums released a decade and over ago for Deadsun Records). So, I was quite happy to discover that Mastabah was kind enough and sent me their newest album “I Hate You”. Finally I had a chance to listen to their music and see if all these positive opinions on this band were true or not.
And well, I have listened to “I Hate You” several times and I can’t shake off, but think that I have quite mixed feelings and opinion on this album. To be more precise – there are things on it I like a lot, but also there’s something what disturbs and bothers me, so in the end I can’t say that I like this music fully.
Let me start with the positives… and the main one is definitely the uncompromising, extreme side of Mastabah. During a great part of “I Hate You” Mastabah offers a vicious, extremely brutal and aggressive death metal, with many deadly fast, blasting parts, crushing wall of death metal riffing and awesome, obscure and ghastly growling vocals. As such Mastabah doesn’t remind me any particular bands, but maybe some small resemblances to such Krisiun or maybe even Nile can be noticed, but at the same time if you listen to their song structures, riffs, rhythm and tempo changes carefully, then it may turn out that “I Hate You” is surely not a bare, plain and simple copy of the mentioned bands, but something more than that. Anyway, such tracks as “Spectacle of Human Existence”, “Path to the Unknown” and “Danse Macabre” are fine examples for what I like in this album the most. Great guitar work, truly awesome drumming (especially those blasts and the double bass work!), some good (but also few worse) vocals… I also like some truly amazing fragments in “The Way from the Grave”.
But now the side of Mastabah, which I like less… One thing are those shrieking vocals, which I already mentioned… I just don’t like them at all. And the other one is little bit difficult to describe, but it starts with such songs as “Etude Op IV No 3” (which actually is more like an instrumental song, really, as the vocal parts are very few here…) and “Undead Orchestra”, where you can find some particular riffs, rhythms (which sometimes sound almost like a death-whatever you call it-core kind of modern extreme band) or arrangements within them, which are completely not in my liking. They sound like kind of modern death metal and I really am not a great fan of such playing at all, sorry to say. Sure, such parts do make the whole album more diverse, which many listeners will take as a good point, but variety is one thing, personal likings is another. So, in the end I am far from feeling a total enthusiasm for “I Hate You” and I am quite torn between liking and disliking it. My opinions differ from song to song and what else can I add… Nowadays there just so many better death metal albums in my opinion that I am afraid “I Hate You” will quickly get covered with dust on my shelf.
Standout tracks: “Spectacle of Human Existence”, “Path to the Unknown”, “Danse Macabre”

Final rate: 65/100

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Siaskel - Jatenentolpen Thejin

SIASKEL - Jatenentolpen Thejin (Self released - CD 2014)
I suppose for many of you this is going to be an interesting review, because it will introduce you to new band hailing from the mighty Chilean death metal scene! And the maniacs of real, obscure death underground have always had a great respect for Chile! But for me this isn’t an easy review, because even if I have listened to “Jatenentolpen Thejin” countless times and definitely liked it since the first time, it turned out it isn’t so easy to describe the album and put in the words its essence and the impression it makes. But I will give my best to do it…
“Jatenentolpen Thejin” is a debut CD for Siaskel, who on this album write about the culture, mythology and cosmogony of the native Chilean people called Selk’nam. But, if one would expect more ethnic and folk music, then he will be hugely disappointed, as nothing like that can be found on “Jatenentolpen Thejin”. Instead, the album brings an obscure, relentless and harsh take on death metal. Stylistically, the band is deeply rooted in the foundations of the genre, in the old school style, but manage to transform it into something more unique and unconventional, while still using the conventional means. I mean, this music is old school, but is nothing like any of the old 90’s albums. This music is classic death metal, but I guess there will not be many bands, which you can compare Siaskel to. Anyway, the riffing is thick and merciless, violent and sometimes also atmospheric… The arrangements are sometimes quite complex, but without going into over technical, modern style of death metal... More so, the main basis for the entire “Jatenentolpen Thejin” is to combine the atmosphere with violent, aggressive death metal. And as such, Siaskel reminds me bands such as Bloody Sign and Forest of Impaled. Majority of the album has been played in fast or mid paced tempo, what results in powerful and fierce attack, just like in songs such as “Lo'coinishi Nar Oukas”, “Howens” and “O’oke”. But I suppose that my favourite song is “Howens”, as it has a nice Vader meets Incantation feeling and crushing energy. Sometimes there’s even a small resemblance to some Krisiun works, but no way is Siaskel as monotonous as the Brazilians. Anyway, by the most of the “Jatenentolpen Thejin” Siaskel rips through the speakers like crazy and leaves no doubts that they’re just very good band. I can also point out great drumming, spotless production… Say what you want, but Chileans have the right guts to play death metal. Support the band!
Standout tracks: “Lo'coinishi Nar Oukas”, “Howens”
Final rate: 75/100

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Imperator - The Time Before Time

IMPERATOR - The Time Before Time (NAMELESS - LP 1991)
This is by far one of the most classic and cult death metal albums from Poland. And I don’t really mean the fact that “The Time Before Time” was so close to be released by Deathlike Silence… Sure, it is also an important fact and something Imperator can be proud of, but at the same time it’s secondary, more so because it never happened. More significant is the fact that it is one of the first Polish death metal records, also one of the most characteristic and original works that have ever been created in this land. Being formed behind the so called Iron Curtain and struggling with all difficulties, which bands / metallers in Poland had to fight with in the 80’s, Imperator managed to create something individual and unique. Obviously “The Time Before Time” has this kind of specific early Polish death metal charisma, something what such bands as Dragon, very early Vader, Betrayer or Merciless Death shared. But at the same time it is way different to all these other bands.
“The Time Before Time” is a difficult album. Firstly, because there is this rough and obscure production, which I think is the weakest side of the whole album… I suppose that these songs would have a bigger influence and effect if they sounded more brutal and powerful. Not that the production is bad; it is fine, but it’s just lacking something, maybe if the guitars had sharper, more crushing sound…? All in all I can say that if someone says that the album didn’t age well, then it is its sound to be blamed for it. Production aside, but songs on “The Time Before Time” do not make the listening easier as well, as they’re chaotic, with more complex structures than your average simple and straight forward death metal band from the old days. The riffing is quite specific, so it may take several listens, before you’ll discover the essence of Imperator. And that also includes the characteristic vocals of Bariel and the arrangements of the vocal parts.
Yeah, definitely if you pick these sometimes weird riffs and all the stuff, which is going on here then you may realise that it is not an album, which will hit you in the face from the first listen and will let you get through it easily. It will spill you some blood first! It is not catchy or memorable, but it is chaotic, obscure as hell and furious. The whole music invokes a strong evil and morbid feeling, reminiscent of the very early works of such Morbid Angel, Order From Chaos and Necrovore, maybe even a little bit of the prehistoric era of Possessed and Slayer, but at the same time it is different, just because Imperator definitely had their own style. There are many technical, thrashing parts on the album with crazy, sick guitar solos, but just like the debut LPs of such Possessed and Slayer, it sounds way darker and more evil than the usual thrash metal album. And more so, “The Time Before Time” is often incredibly fast, has many tempo changes, variations or something else what makes it sound quite special… but also sloppy in too many moments. It never gets close to being memorable and catchy, it always is very obscure, harsh and chaotic, but that I suppose will be an advantage for many maniacs.
But “The Time Before Time” is not just the music. The lyrics – based on Necronomicon, Sumerian myths, etc. - also give it a special feeling… of something evil, indescribable, terrifying, mysterious… Taking all these ingredients together, I must say that I do like “The Time Before Time” and have a strong respect for Imperator for being there at the time and for recording such a morbid piece of death metal in so early days. But at the same time I do admit that “The Time Before Time” is not a perfect record and there are some moments, when it is just too messy or simply not quite as good. Sure, such songs as “Eternal Might” – with this brilliant opening theme, “Abhorrence” and “Necronomicon” are great; but on the other hand such “External Extinction” is kind of mediocre (at least some of its fragments). As I mentioned before, this is not an easy album, it is not as memorable and effective as say “Abominations of Desolation” or “The Ultimate Incantation”. You may feel thrown away by some of these sick riffs and solos or Bariel’s yells. Despite that, it is a classic LP and surely it must be in everyone’s collection!
Standout tracks: “Eternal Might”, “Abhorrence”, “Necronomicon”

Final rate: 75/100