Sunday, 28 September 2014

Hegemone - Luminosity

HEGEMONE - Luminosity (Self financed CD 2014)
Maybe I am not the biggest and most fanatical fan of post metal in general, but I do admit to like this style, to like that sound and exceptionally good atmosphere of such music. There are some bands like Russian Circles, Pelican, Isis, Long Distance Calling, Fleshworld and some more, which I just can listen to all day long. And there are obviously also quite few outstanding black metal bands, which combine the post metal playing and mood with black metal characteristics – something I also like a lot also and find so special. So, I am not a stranger to this whole style and I am also not someone who feels disgust for the more progressive side of this music – and I write that as I know that there are some die hard antagonists to such progressive side of the extreme. Which is not my headache and problem. But I got immediately interested in Polish band called Hegemone, when they contacted me to review their debut album “Luminosity”. So, I spent last six or seven days on listening to this CD and I must admit it was a great pleasure and a very good experience.
I think that “Luminosity” is not an album, which will bore you, as there are so many surprises, so many specials in every song… Sure, the whole thing is mainly about building the atmosphere, the proper feeling, with great, well built song structures, long instrumental passages, etc, but it’s also properly aggressive and even harsh in some moments, so I think it’s not an album for post (black) metal fanatics exclusively and maybe more people will be able to find something interesting in it. Which I hope will turn this way and provide Hegemone a lot of attention - with “Luminosity” they certainly deserve it! Anyway, as mentioned before, I see this album as some truly worthy and impressive piece. Ever since the first listen, Hegemone caught my attention and I have listened to the whole album many times now, every time with a great interest.
As mentioned before, one of the main characteristics of “Luminosity” is its great diversity and the careful setting up of the atmosphere. Take the first two songs now; “Diurnal” opens the album in quite harsh way and it is a very good opener indeed. The tempo is rather slow, the riffs seem to crawl in the murky surrounding; stylistically it is very close to some post black metal bands, so I have been hooked immediately. But then there’s really outstanding piece titled “The Hunt Within”, which is over seven minutes long instrumental track, filled with killer post metal riffing (which actually seems to be quite simple and almost monotonous, but not in negative meaning of this word, but rather as mesmerizing), which build the tension perfectly… and the real highlight of the song is use of the saxophone, which adds something truly sick and twisted to it. But damn, I like it a lot. This is one of the main reasons, why I like this whole style of extreme music… sometimes you don’t even need the vocals, if the riffs speak for themselves and generate almost sort of hypnotizing mood. And that is exactly the case of “Luminosity” and this instrumental song especially. But of course there are even more truly great parts and surprises on the album. “Away From the Sun” for that case begins with slow, atmospheric part only to be surpassed by a fast, almost classic black metal riff! Maybe some listeners will say that blasting part can destroy the atmosphere of the music, but I don’t think so and definitely “Away From the Sun” is one of my personal favourites on the album. But even more I like “Lowborn” – what a great combination of heavy riff and melancholy, with some gloomy sounds of keyboard. Finally the album is summarized by “XXXIX”, which is also the longest track (with over 12 minutes on the clock!) and also the most epic, I suppose – just listen to how it is built, especially in the beginning.
I am not saying that “Luminosity” is a perfect album, as there can always be some better songs, better arrangements… maybe Hegemone can concentrate even more on the long, instrumental parts, maybe they can add some clean vocals… who knows what plans the band have for the future. But I know one thing – “Luminosity” is damn solid and good debut CD. I am very pleased with it, I have enjoyed it totally, so my sincere congrats to the band for releasing such a good debut. I definitely will recommend Hegemone to all and will keep my eyes open on the future of this band!
Standout tracks: “Diurnal”, “The Hunt Within”, “Lowborn”
Final rate: 80/100

Selbstmord - No Forgiveness!

SELBSTMORD - No Forgiveness! (DEATHRUNE - CD 2012)
Ehh… I suppose that I should start this review, saying that I am not necessarily a big follower of the so called NS black metal scene. Not that I am really bothered by the controversy, the extreme ideology of such bands – because I am not, I can tolerate it, even if I do not agree with them so much and find many aspects of it as simply idiotic. I guess the biggest problem I always had with such bands was rather the fact that with big mouth didn’t come any great music and seriously, there were only very, very few worthy bands within this extreme scene. So racial hatred, fascism and politics aside… but it is also one of the reasons why I never bothered to check Selbstmord more deeply. There’s too much awesome and truly killer stuff around to care about such bands. But recently I had no choice, but give Selbstmord a more careful attention, as Spanish Deathrune sent me a copy of “No Forgiveness!” CD for review, so either I wanted or not, I simply had to put it into the CD player, listen several times and now I must review it. Life sucks hehe! OK, I exaggerate now, as I am not one of those pussies, who scream in fright that “there’re Nazis on the board!”. I don’t care! Fuck politics, fuck racial purity, let’s listen to “No Forgiveness!”!
Ha, and here’s something what I would not expect! It turns out that Selbstmord’s “No Forgiveness!” is not bad at all and it is actually quite good album! You know, most of the stuff from similar bands was: 1. Badly recorded, 2. Pitifully composed and performed, 3. Had terrible vocals and everything else – simply most of them were entirely shit. Selbstmord’s album is like against all these accusations, because it is 1. Really well produced, 2. There are very good compositions, with some splendid parts, very well played and 3. I am actually listening to it for the third day in row and there’s really nothing pathetic about this album. Of course I will not comment the lyrical content of it and texts like “By wygrać wojnę ras”… I rather concentrate fully on the music, which is very good!
“No Forgiveness!” is harsh, cold black metal, played in relatively fast tempos (but not entirely!), but it’s often also quite melodic… and that melody when combined with rawness and bestiality of black metal brings interesting and great result. There are some killer riffs, memorable parts, great atmosphere throughout the whole album – so yes, I am very positively surprised and listen to “No Forgiveness!” with a honest pleasure. Tracks like “Archanioł pożogi”, “Bractwo bezprawia” or those fast pieces like “Endlösung”, “No Forgiveness” and “Armies of the Sun” are great! These fast songs, but also the vocals and the whole atmosphere of music, remind me some early Thunderbolt albums, so it is a very good recommendation! At least for me it is. On top of all, there’s a lot of diverse playing on the album, so I can only congratulate the band for putting out such a good material. And as mentioned before, I had no expectations whatsoever, I thought it will be another low quality shit, so I was mistaken! And very positively surprised. So, well done Selbstmord, I am surely putting another very good name on the map of killer Polish black metal.
Standout tracks: “Armies of the Sun”, “Bractwo bezprawia”, “Endlösung”, “Archanioł pożogi”

Final rate: 70/100

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Thunderwar - interview

THUNDERWAR - interview with Witold
This young band stormed through the underground with no hesitation and quickly became one of the most recognized new acts from the Polish death metal scene… and all that thanks to only one, self financed EP "The Birth of Thunder" and some seriously awesome and important gigs, which were lately performed. Yes, Thunderwar is a name to remember. At the moment they’re working on the debut full length album, but this conversation is still mainly dedicated to the debut recording and beginnings of the band. So read it, enjoy it and support Thunderwar, as I am quite certain that with the upcoming album they’ll get some serious recognition. Witold answered my questions!

Hi there Witold. Ha, I must admit for me this is quite unusual way to do interviews, but I hope everything will go well. I wonder first though, how many interviews have you guys answered recently? I mean Thunderwar all of a sudden became quite well know band, not only in Poland, but in the world underground! And everything seems to go so quick with you - you appeared out of nowhere with self financed MCD and without a help of a label you managed to get it promoted decently and get recognized. I'm sure you must be quite happy with how the things are going, right? Have you expected this to happen?
Hi! It's true. Thunderwar has made significant progress since the release of the EP. I admit I'm really happy with it, but I was sure it would have a positive response in both Poland and abroad. We've really put a great deal of work into the releasing of this material (and money as well haha). Finally I believe that the investment returns to us every day. Since then, we've received a lot of really cool offers and we're getting them still.

Does it put any sort of pressure on you, when composing the new album? I mean, the great and positive feedback on "The Birth of Thunder" also creates the expectations in maniacs, who will want to hear more and even more deadly stuff. How do you cope with these expectations? Or maybe you simply do not bother and just play what you have in the guts... and the effects will come later...
With releasing ”The Birth of Thunder”, we've raised the standards, but I know that my band is developing all the time and we're not straying from the taken course. We've received a lot of positive feedback, and played big shows, but we're not resting on laurels but still pushing forward. It's only the beginning of our journey. While creating music, I try not to be under any pressure or constraints. I believe it would have a harmful effect on the truthfulness and quality of our music. I want everything to come out naturally.

Were you surprised with that positive feedback you received for "The Birth of Thunder”? I mean, you're a total newcomer, with really young guys in the lineup and already your first official release gets such a good reception. It must be a great satisfaction for you and stimulation for more! It surely met your expectations! What opinions have stack in your mind the most? Do they come together also with gigs offers and contract offers from the labels?
As I've said before, I was prepared for the positive feedback. Having heard lots of Heavy Metal, I have far too much of an ear for it, and criticism for my own work, to release some shit material. It's really nice to read the enthusiastic opinions about our MCD, whether it's from the critics or just posted on forums and in comments. It reinforces our conviction that we're heading the right direction. One thing that was certainly a big distinction for us, was playing shows with Amon Amarth, Obituary and Carcass in September. It was a great experience enabling us to see how this world functions ”behind the scenes”. As far as the contracts are concerned – we've had a couple of offers, but we'd rather not search for a label until we've released our complete record.

I mentioned the age of all of you and I really base it on your photos only, where you look like the early 20's. Well, tell me then, how have you all discovered the lethal music? What were your first encounters with it and more so, since the music of Thunderwar is rather old styled, then what pointed you into the old school direction? Was it just natural thing? Or maybe you don't agree and don't see your music as old school? Which classic albums would you say have the biggest influence on you?
I was lucky that in my home noone listened to shitty music. It was really thanks to my parents that I got to know bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, or Metallica (this still being before the time of the internet haha). When I started maturing, I felt the hunger for extreme music. The breakthrough for me, was seeing the music video for Kreator's ”Betrayer”, which literally blew me away. This was what I was looking for! Later it was like an avalanche... I lay my paws on the records of Morbid Angel, Sodom, Unleashed, Death and Immortal. When it comes to the old school spirit in our music – we refer to the roots of the genre, but we don't want to do historical re-enactment. We believe that music in those times was more honest and natural. I completely don't understand those plastic-dripping, modern death metal bands. Dave Brockie, in one of his interviews, once said ”I believe that today's metal sounds like a load of instruments thrown down a staircase”. I agree comple
tely. The digitalised sound and overdone editing, serve metal no good. Of course, I don't want to generalise, because I only refer to the trend which, I hope, is at its end. As far as I can see, there is a tendency to return to the live and natural sound. The proof of this, for example, is the recent work of Tribulation. As for the albums which have had the greatest influence on me – the milestone is Dissection's ”Storm of the Light's Bane”... it's just perfect in every detail. One of the best albums in Heavy Metal history. Next comes Bathory's ”Blood Fire Death”, Iron Maiden's ”Somewhere in Time”, ”Agent Orange” by Sodom, Judas Priest's ”Painkiller”, ”Symbolic” by Death... I could keep naming without end, since every single one of these records continuously inspires me.

You mentioned the newest Tribulation LP. I see it, as well as Morbid Chron and Miasmal latest efforts, as some sort of new quality within this rotten old styled niche. I even foresee that they may create some sort of new sound and trend... How did you like these new LPs? And also some other newer old school death metal bands, many of which are just utterly killer... Any favourites there? More so, you mentioned such Iron Maiden and Death... and I bet that for you, as a guitarists, the guitar work in these bands, and also of such James Murphy, is very influential...
Tribulation's latest album is definitely the one I like the most. A magical sound, the music composed in a very original way and a great atmosphere. You can also hear the black metal influences, like that of Watain or Dissection, which I consider a great advantage. In spite of the whole thing sounding very oldschool, I believe the final effect on the record to be very fresh. When it comes to the new bands, which have caught my attention, I would highly recommend the Swedish Degial, and The Dead Goats, from our home country. The first is a fusion between the first productions of Morbid Angel and Possessed. The second one, a homage to the Swedish bands like Entombed and Dismember. Of course James Murphy is a great inspiration for me, just like the majority of the musicians, who appeared in Death. I always liked the way he used the movable bridge. My top choices would also be: Marty Friedman, Dave Suzuki, Jeff Loomis, Paul Gilbert and Yngwie Malmsteen. Since I started playing the guitar I learned the feel / technique from their tutorials. You can say they were the ones who taught me the most haha. Until today, they're still a great inspiration for me.

And what can you say about these gigs you played with Amon Amarth and Obituary. How did they happen? I must say that while I completely don't care about Amon Amarth, then Obituary is a legend, one of the first death metal bands, which I started to listen to back in 1991. So, I bet that also for you it must have been a honour! What were these gigs like and also, did you have a chance to talk to the guys from more known bands? How was the feedback and the whole gig like?
It happened that we were just given an offer to play these concerts. As I said before it was a great honour for us, especially that we only have one single and an EP released. Both shows were really well organised and we had the opportunity to present ourselves in front of a great audience. You know, Obituary and Amon Amarth are really big bands and integrating with fans is really tiring for them.
I myself don't like being a nuisance to anyone, so we only exchanged some casual small talk and I gave some of the members our EP. I think the impressions from our shows were positive since all of the records and T-shirts, we had in our merchandise were sold out.

Back to history of the band… Thunderwar was formed under the name Perun... and I must say that such name would never tell me that we're dealing with a death metal band, as Perun fits some pagan / folk metal bands better hehe. So, I suppose it was a main reason why you have changed the moniker? Do you remember how you guys gathered and formed this band? Who came with initiative?
The main reason for changing the name, was the problem with foreigners pronouncing it right and the fact, that there already are a few bands with that name. We wanted to have a name which is unique and original and finding one was a hard nut to crack. It was a miracle that our present one wasn't taken. When it comes to the band being formed, here, as usual, we have a completely trivial and spontaneous story. I met Madness at some party and the next day he invited me over for Perun's rehearsal, where he was bashing away at „something” with Vit. I quickly realised, that this band might  become something more and I brought a song over to their rehearsal, which we later called “Eagle of Glory”. Soon after Olszak joined in, and that's been the lineup since then.

Lyrically there's a song about mythology, another one about the vikings riding over the Lindisfarne... Do I sense that the master Quorthon has influenced you, speaking of the lyrical themes? More so, what is the song "Eagle of Glory" about? Why is this track mentioned as a bonus on the EP?
Of course Bathory and Unleashed has had an influence on the lyrical aspect of Thunderwar's music. Still I'm mainly influenced by Quorthon's music, which you can hear in the title track and the instrumental track called „The Birth of Thunder”. The lyrics on our EP are separate stories about ancient cults and mythologies. The lyrics on our upcoming record, however, will be more consistent and connected to one another. As far as “Eagle of Glory” is concerned... I would like to leave it to the listener's interpretation. The song was placed there as a bonus track, because it had been released and published before, on our first single.

In some way, Thunderwar differs lyrically from the majority of old styled death metal bands... I mean, 98% of them deal with the horror / gore / satanic / occult themes, which is awesome, but the viking or mythological subjects are also fine (vide Unleashed and old Hazael). But were you ever into horror stuff or it is not something what lays in your interest? How did you come up with an idea for such lyrical direction? I suppose that even the artwork for the EP distinguish you a little... Hehe, no zombies, no inverted crosses hehe... Amazing artwork, but not something what I would usually link with old school death metal hehe!
Honestly speaking I had never been attracted to the horror / gore genre. I much more prefer the solemn and epic atmosphere. It's probably because I've been a big fan of classical and film music, since I was a child. However I am very interested in the occult and esotericism, and so the future Thunderwar lyrics will touch upon those themes as well. I'd still like

to stress that Thunderwar is not heading the pagan / viking direction. We've got one such song ant that's enough for now. We'd rather not limit ourselves thematically. The cover artwork is pretty unusual as for this type of genre, but looking at Bolt Thrower and Dismember, you can see that we weren't the first.

Apocalypse is a lyrical theme for many metal bands and it's also popular in many books, movies, starting with such "Terminator" and "Mad Max", ending with "24 Days Later"... Nuclear annihilation, global freeze, the asteroids threat... I personally think that the end may come rather from the outbreak of pestilence, from a lethal virus, which can kill the mankind... Which of these scenarios are likely to happen, in your opinion?
Honestly speaking I'm not worried about the global apocalypse, but the most credible scenario seems to be that our own stupidity will be the cause of our demise. So your vision is very real, since maybe some eggheads have created a mutation of some lethal virus, which can imperceptibly go out of control. We know such stories from the times of the USSR. Still, history shows, that in spite of great calamities (the Black Death epidemic in the 14th c.), humanity has always been able to get back on its feet, and in the aftermath, would become more fit to survive and powerful. For me, the end of the world will come, when I die in a car accident, for instance. We're nothing more but bits of dust, placed somewhere in the void of the universe and our existence is but a moment on the never ending timeline. It's terrifying how little we know about the world.

Since you mentioned that new album is about to be recorded and released soon, give me some more details on it. Firstly, what are the new songs like, when compared to "The Birth of Thunder" EP? Which direction do you think the new material is going? Secondly, where do you plan to record and release it? Do you have many labels interested in Thunderwar?
At the moment we're at the stage of polishing the material. The songs will be more Black Metal, atmospheric and dirty, than the ones on the EP. Of course the old school Death Metal will still be there. We're not straying from the taken course, only making it more radical. No song from „The Birth of Thunder” will be repeated on our full record. We're also slowly beginning to work on the cover. We're entering the Hertz studio on the 14th of October this year, so I think that by December, the CD will be ready to be sent to the record companies. Which label will take us under their wings, and when the premiere will take place – this I cannot tell yet.

What expectations do you have with the new, upcoming album? Is there aim, which you have, something you want to achieve with it or you're just happy to have it released and to know that some maniacs will maybe enjoy the music? I ask this also, cause you know, there are some young bands, which make business plans or other shit and want to be another Behemoth celebrities, behaving like stars, which they will never be... Big ego is a problem of many bands today. What is your view on that?
First of all writing music and playing live is a huge turn-on for me and gives me a great deal of satisfaction. It's really an amazing feeling, when the people at our gigs chant the chorus to “Vimana”, especially that we're a very young band. Our aim is constant development, but without losing the honesty and authenticity. For all the band members, the band means our life. As far as the business plans and pie graphs are concerned, I consider it an act of pure stupidity. I would turn my blind eye on it if the material spoke for itself, but unfortunately that's not the case and never will be. I like Behemoth, especially for their last record, but the guys have achieved their success through hard work and perseverance (10 albums!) and not some fucking pie graphs and idiotic films on YouTube. The Swedes have about four „Behemoths” in every town, and every second one is in Nuclear Blast, Century Media or Metal Blade. The bloated ego is mostly the problem of the Polish bands. Since they cannot attract listeners with their music, the best method is creating an ideology and a soaring ego.

I wonder what do you think about all these sites like bandcamp, where people buy (!!) mp3 files of albums? Call me old fashioned, but I just have no idea why would someone want to pay for mp3, if he can buy the real CD or sometimes even LP for the same price? Where's the point there?!
I don't think there's anything wrong with it. To the contrary. In the western world, people regularly buy records, but here in Poland hardly anyone does it, especially among people my age. Mostly because of their price. I think that those who would firstly like to get acquainted with the music of a certain band, would first like to spend some change and listen to a few songs without leaving the house and waiting for the courier. If they like it, most of them are likely to go to a shop and buy the full album. Here people will just download those files from Torrent, paying nothing to the artist.

While this chat was in translation you managed to perform another important gig, one with Carcass and Polish legends Hazael! Again, congrats for such an awesome achievement. What impression these two old bands made on you? How did you enjoy the whole concert and Thunderwar performance?
It was an incredible experience for me. The moment our band was confirmed for the show, we realised, we were aiming very high, and that playing before an undoubtedly difficult audience, was a big challenge for us. I think we managed quite well. The audience's reception and the sound was amazing, so the gig was excellent. It was a great honour for us to be able to play, on the same stage, with such cult and legendary bands. Hazael is a class in itself, and the gig, which Carcass pulled off, was something I'll remember for a long time. I admit it was definitely one of the best shows I went to and one of the best gigs I had the chance to play.

And my last question is… some of you are or were also members of other bands like Hell Patrol, Bestiality (Vit) and Hexfire (you). What can you say about these bands? You’re in Hexfire, which plays the most annoying music ever created within metal circles – power metal! I never understood the phenomenon of this style and probably will never get infected by it… but I wonder how do you find yourself playing this, so different style of music?
I was recruited to Hexfire when I was sixteen. This was the time I was looking for my own lineup and the lust for playing made me grab onto anything (once I even made my way through some deathcore band, but this I wouldn't even like to admit haha.) The prospect of recording an album with musicians such as Niclas Etelävuori (Amporhis), Novy (Dies Irae,Vader) and Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody of Fire), who made a guest appearance there, was very attractive to me. The CD was released by Nightmare Records. It's hard to talk about a band here, because it was more like a project done by the Liszko brothers. I was just a workman. Hexfire hasn't been existing for a long time, and my story in this lineup ended with laying a few guitar tracks, during the recording session. I believe you got this information from Metal Archives, but the status of the project, has been „split-up”, for the past four years. To sum up, I gained some experience and got to know a few people from the music industry. Still, as you've probably realised yourself, power metal is not my kettle of fish. Bestiality, on the other hand is our drummer's side project and it starts where Blasphemy and Destroyer 666 collide. I highly recommend it to all those lusting for a reeking miasma.

OK, cheers Witold for your time and competing this interview. It took us some time to finish it, but I think the final result is not bad at all. Hope to hear the new album soon, so keep on doing great work! Any words to finish this chat??

Thank you for the devoted time. See you in the future!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Bolzer - Aura

Sometimes it’s good to listen to what the crowd has to say. At least in this case it paid off. Everywhere I looked I could only read how awesome is this new Swiss band called Bölzer, how unconventional take on death metal they offer and simply that their EP “Aura” is a fuckin shredder and best debut in years. Yeahhh… I was not so eager to check it at first, but this name was just coming back all the time, so finally I surrendered, checked couple of songs and the same day I ordered the vinyl. Yes, I also became addicted to Bölzer, all these opinions were absolutely right – this band IS one of a kind and their music sounds exceptional. And believe me, once I putted this vinyl on the player, it did not leave it for couple of weeks, so good it turned out to be. Yeah, absolutely magnificent job, so thanks to Iron Bonehead for unveiling this band into our world and spreading this pestilence!
Now, what’s so special about Bölzer? Well, I guess everyone should just listen to their music themselves to discover it, to find out how infectious and possessing these sounds are. Obviously I am sort of a reviewer, so I must try to recommend some good music to those, who never had a chance to hear it – or the opposite; to tell you if something’s shit… if my opinion would matter at all. As mentioned, my opinion on “Aura” is only super positive. This EP do not let you walk away easily and drags attention like the light drags moths! And the main secret, in my opinion, about Bölzer are the totally amazing riffs, which the band plays and which I think sound quite original – as I just can’t put one or two bands, which would play something similar! These riffs along with possessed, howling voices create an atmosphere of mysticism, epic and monumental (as majestic as the fuckin Ancient Rome!!!), but also dark and haunting. And you can probably call it a mixture of black and death metal, some reviewers throw into the description also sludge, even post metal (!), but I suppose the influence of both first mentioned styles had a strongest impact on Bölzer… But it is still not enough to call it just that, I repeat: you must listen to this music carefully to truly discover its essence and supreme feeling. It’s not something what has been explored countless times before, I think that this truly is one of the most original sounding bands of the recent years. Sure, there are around bands like Mitochondrion, Necros Christos, Grave Miasma and so on and on, which may have some similar patterns used here and there, but Bölzer is not alike any of them.
Two songs on side A are simply perfect and leave me speechless… every time I listen to “C.M.E.” and “Entranced by the Wolfshook” I am feeling like in trance, hypnotized by the excellent powerful riffs and howls of KzR. They’re mixing fast and vicious riffs with some doomy parts, but it always sounda just exceptionally good. And so damn dark! And “The Great Unifier” on side B is walking similar path to such Triptykon and is just eerie, doomy, sinister, ominous… It is a 10 minutes long anthem, but there’s so much variety in it, so many different things are going on in this song… in each of them, actually, so in the end I can’t even choose my fave track, all are just superb. And it is getting even better with every listen. This is certainly the best thing, which Switzerland has spawned since the 80’s and early 90’s, so the most glorious days of Celtic Frost and Samael. And it shall echo in eternity!
Standout tracks: ALL

Final rate: 95/100

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Martyrvore - Obliteration

MARTYRVORE - Obliteration (DEATHRUNE - CD 2014)
Years have passed since I heard anything from Matei from Death to Mankind / Die Todesrune (now Deathrune Records). But he contacted me a while ago introducing to his newest release, which is a CD of American band called Martyrvore. I don’t know any of this band’s previous releases, which were some demos and splits, but that doesn’t even matter so much. It’s good that I got a chance to listen to “Obliteration”, as it is really damn awesome and shredding piece of obscurity and bestiality!
This band really shows how violent, bestial, cruel, evil and sinister this music can be. Martyrvore performs death / black metal, which I think brings some strong resemblances to such bands like Archgoat, Black Witchery, Profanatica, Throneum, Nunslaughter, Bestial Raids, Blasphemy, Incantation, Teitanblood and many other, similar cult acts. More so, the atmosphere on “Obliteration” reminds me the evil, satanic feeling on the Acheron albums. So, put together all these bands I mentioned, imagine simple, not complicated, maybe even quite archaic music, but with very heavy, thick sound and riffing and with awesome ghoulish vocals – and then you will know what is Martyrvore like. 
There are 19 tracks on the album! Of corpse some of them are intros, but only few, and the rest is an uncompromising and malevolent attack of bestial death / black metal anthems, mostly played in fast, vicious tempos – short, but straight forward and merciless to the bone! But with the production, which is harsh, but clean and deadly powerful this music really crushes and sets the proper atmosphere right from the very beginning, from the first riff of “Tsunami II”. Yes, total annihilation! Simple means, not primitive, but just traditional for this sort of music and the result is great. Martyrvore knows perfectly how to compose this music to achieve the best, most powerful results and in my opinion they succeeded on “Obliteration”. For me the most important in this music is to set the proper evil atmosphere and to have the powerful (nuclear hehe!) sound – and in both Martyrvore did great. There’s no philosophy in this music, no mathematic formulas… some songs may sound too alike to each other, but I don’t even care so much, what matters is that energy and blood, which erupts from the speakers once I play “Obliteration” loud. Get this offering of disgust and blasphemy and support Martyrvore. Well good stuff, indeed! And great front artwork!
Standout tracks: “Tsunami II”, “Iron Satan”, “Nuclear Orgasm”, “Reaper”

Final rate: 70/100

Dissection - The Somberlain

DISSECTION - The Somberlain (THE END Records - LP 2006)
If I was going to say which is my favourite death and black metal scene ever, then surely it is Swedish! Why? Well, the answer is simple: just look at how many amazing, classic bands and albums this country has spawned in past 30 years! It is unbelievable and totally influential. And if I was going to mention which are three or five my favourite and important Swedish bands, then Dissection would surely be among them. It is undisputable how great influence the music of Jon Nödtveidt had on countless bands and that Dissection was responsible for creating something exceptional within the death and black metal scene. It’s one of those names, which you simply must know. So, let’s write some words on the classic debut album of the Swedish band titled “The Somberlain”! Oh yes, this is some fantastic stuff and probably the best thing, which Jon Nödtveidt composed (with great help of other band members of corpse, who on this record were John Zwetsloot, Peter Palmdahl and Ole Öhman).
It is fascinating that so many bands from these early days – and that obviously includes Dissection as well! – had already such a unique, recognisable sound and style already in the demo stages. You play “The Grief Prophecy” or “The Somberlain” and you just know this is Dissection; no other band was playing something alike to them (Necrophobic may have been close sometimes, but they were different anyway… and all those followers like Sacramentum, Dawn or Vinterland were great, but yes, they were followers!), no one else had such songs, which had such unique structures and arrangements. And even the voice of Jon Nödtveidt sounded different! And so damn amazing hehe! Already the first two songs, which open the album are enough to call it a classic, legendary LP! They are “Black Horizon” and “The Somberlain” – surely two best tracks here in my opinion. I just love their melodies combined with aggression and dark atmosphere, harsh vocals and it is simply impressive how built they are. It is not simple verse / chorus type of rock song; there are many fantastic, lengthy instrumental pieces, killer guitar work, which delivers insanely memorable harmonies, plenty awesome riffs, some extra parts played on acoustic guitar… Surely classic heavy metal of such Iron Maiden must have had an influence on building such songs, because it is not a common harsh, simple, primitive black / death metal. But what I especially love about Dissection and “The Somberlain” LP is that it may be melodic and atmospheric in many parts, but it doesn’t forget also about being damn obscure and aggressive. That’s the main strength of Dissection, I think.
So, “Black Horizon” and “The Somberlain” are amazing songs, but obviously the album has more to offer. All in all it is 45 minutes long material and damn, basically every song here is a winner like “Frozen”, “The Grief Prophecy / Shadows over a Lost Kingdom” and “Heaven’s Damnation”! But hey, what’s the point mentioning all these titles, if the whole LP is so killer and high quality? And more so, on top of everything that I mentioned, I also really love the production of “The Somberlain”… and that nice artwork of Necrolord is also a piece of art. All together, this album, just like all similar classic extreme metal records, deserves 100 out of 100, no less!
I must also mention that I was lucky to buy an ultimate vinyl edition of “The Somberlain”, released by The End Records in 2006. And it is simply astonishing, breathtaking release! Why is it called an ultimate edition? Just look at all the bonuses! Great booklet with some huge photos, lyrics and it’s also a double LP. Vinyl number one is the album, but vinyl number two gather many truly essential early Dissection recordings, which are: “The Grief Prophecy” demo 1990, “Into Infinite Obscurity” 7" EP, “Demo 1992” plus some live and rehearsal songs. So yes, it is a ultimate reissue and a perfect collection of the best what Dissection had to offer, especially as those demos and EP sound also fantastic, I especially love “Into Infinite Obscurity” EP, especially “Son of the Mourning”. You can hear how amazingly the music of Dissection was evolving, how it was getting better and better. But the demo and EP also sound fantastic; sure, their production is harsh and crude, but I simply love it! So, if I was going to recommend you buying any version of “The Somberlain” then it would surely be this one, with all these bonus stuff. Ha, killer!!!!
Standout tracks: “Black Horizon”, “The Somberlain”

Final rate: 95/100

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Ghost - The Lost of Mercy

GHOST - The Lost of Mercy (THRASHING MADNESS - CD 2014)
I’ve noticed that in the last month I actually wrote more reviews of old, re-released demos / albums than the reviews of new bands and their recent recordings. But I am not complaining, as it’s always great to remind some classic shit, especially if it comes from lesser known, sometimes criminally underestimated bands, whose old CDs are as easy and cheap to buy as gold. I am happy that the re-issue frenzy has also reached some old Polish bands and recently I was mainly reviewing the stuff, which Thrashing Madness was releasing, such as Merciless Death, Silence, Armagedon, Nightmare, Lastwar… and now it’s time for another Polish classic death metal release, which is Ghost and their only full length album “The Lost of Mercy”! It’s really worthy reissue, because the original CD pressing of this album costs as much as Hazael’s “Thor” but is even more difficult to find. And I am not a kind of person, who would spend half of his monthly wages on a CD! So, in my opinion this is just excellent that “The Lost of Mercy” has been reissued. Thrashing Madness as always delivers a good quality CD, with fat booklet (which hardly fits the jewel case, so thick it is hehe!) – and in the booklet you’ll find a second part of Ghost history (first part shall be introduced on the demo compilation CD!), some liner notes from the band members and people, who knew the band back in the old days… finally there are some photos, lyrics… And most importantly, the CD contains several bonus tracks, of which the most significant is the 1998 demo “Renown”, which I have never heard of before – I seriously thought that Ghost split up right after releasing “The Lost of Mercy” and never recorded anything else… until now! – and four live recordings from various gigs. In total you’ll get 17 tracks, over an hour of old school death metal!
Now, starting with “The Lost of Mercy”… I think I haven’t listened to this album for well over decade now. My cassette has vanished with all other old tapes I had and obviously I could never afford to buy the CD. But I still remember the whole album very well, every song is in my head. But I listen to the album with great pleasure. Ghost nowadays would simply be called old school to the bone death metal, very much influenced by such bands as Obituary, Bolt Thrower, “Leprosy” era Death, Massacre, Cancer, Disincarnate, even Asphyx in some parts. When compared to such Armagedon, it is obvious that Ghost were more brutal, with more massive and heavy sound and riffs… But the materials stands out with some great arrangements, great variety of riffing – with some slow, simple, but damn heavy parts coming next to some fast stuff and with some truly awesome lead guitar parts; oh, just listen to “Cross of Stone”, which is just excellent track, offering everything what I just mentioned, including some leads, which even James Murphy would be happy with! I even think that Murphy’s Disincarnate is the closest band I can compare Ghost with! Disincarnate and maybe also Polish Trauma (from their “Invisible Reality” demo days)!
I do admit that maybe not all songs from “The Lost of Mercy” are top notch – such “Extreme Reality” and “The Day After” for instance are quite mediocre, sometimes they tend to become a little monotonous and coarse, especially if the vocals seem to growl in the same manner all the time. But it is very minor detail, surely one which doesn’t spoil the listening and I still think that “The Lost of Mercy” is more than just solid and great album. There are many pearls there, with the previously mentioned “Cross of Stone” in the first row; then there’re such killer tracks as “Alien”, “Flag of Shadow Master”, “Bestial Rites”… “The Lost of Mercy” contains also three I think re-recorded songs from also well remembered “Bad Obsession” demo (which I think was my very first demo tape I ever bought in my life!!!!!), of which especially “Morbid Game” sticks out with some excellent riffs. Oh, I really like this song a lot; it is fairly unchanged when compared to the demo version, only small arrangement changes I think and it just sounds better and heavier than before. “King of Darkness” also sounds powerful and belongs to the most brutal tracks of Ghost.
Finally there’s “Renown” demo, which I was so curious about… and damn, I think I like it even more than the album! Maybe it’s because “The Lost of Mercy” has this tendency to bore in few moments, while “Renown” are just three songs and there’s no time for monotony? I don’t know, but I guess it’s just the fact that these songs are simply better – heavier, but also more straight forward, better written, with some truly crushing riffs and even some Bolt Thrower-esque melodies… Anyway, the result is very good! Also the production is not bad at all; it may not be as clean as the albums’, but that works for the better I suppose, as it seems to be rougher but more deadly. “Just Say No!”, but especially “Freedom Calls” are truly great songs, so I recommend you listening to them. Finally there’re also four live songs, recorded in 1993-94 and I must say they sound not bad at all. Just listen to “Morbid Game” recorded at Jarocin festival 1993 – it sounds really brutal and powerful!
So, I must write it again – finally I have “The Lost of Mercy” on CD!!! This reissue is simply awesome, also for the “Renown” demo, so even if you already have the first press CD you better also get this reissue, so you’ll listen to some more music from Ghost. Very, very recommended! So, we had Hazael, Armagedon and Ghost reissues among others… now I am waiting for someone to put out Betrayer, Violent Dirge, Schismatic, Necrobiosis recordings. And probably some more bands I forgot now to mention! 
Standout tracks: “Alien”, “Cross of Stone”, “Morbid Game”, “King of Darkness”, “Freedom Calls”

Final rate: 80/100

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Watain - Rabid Death's Curse

WATAIN - Rabid Death's Curse (NOEVDIA - picLP 2008)
Nowadays everyone in the scene and outside of it have heard about Watain. Yes, this Swedish black metal band became huge! They’re certainly one of the biggest black metal bands ever, which is even more weird knowing that they were formed only in 1998, so years after the explosion of Scandinavian black metal. And yes, some may argue whether Watain became more popular because of the whole image, total satanic devotion, the whole aesthetics around the band or due to their music… Hmm, I suppose it depends who you’re talking to. Some may be totally fascinated by the image, some other may simply love the music. I personally think it’s a bit of both… Yes, Watain made the black metal image important again, after a time, when most of the classic black metal band seemed to feel bored with it and became… hmm, normal, if I can say so. Emperor, Mayhem, Satyricon, Gehenna – they all dropped the visual aspects of their music and with it the whole aura around this music was just gone… and then Watain – but let’s be honest, it wasn’t just them, but also some other (mainly Swedish) bands like Armagedda, Ondskapt, Funeral Mist, Ofermod – appears with ultra fanatical satanic music and imagery. And it turned out that these bands gave a new life into this genre. And for Watain it all went so far that now they play huge festivals as one of the headliners (I am sure that mainly due to the show they put out) and the band is recognised by everyone.  Yes, they took a long road since “Rabid Death's Curse” LP. This was my first album of Watain, which I have heard back in 2001. The same year I managed to interview Erik and even putted an awesome live photo of him on the cover of the second issue of my fanzine. Ha, so many years ago, damn! Now he’s on the covers of the major magazines, not fanzines anymore, but it is good to go back to those old days and listen to “Rabid Death's Curse”, as I still like this LP a lot.
I suppose the first thing, which is going to strike you, when listening to “Rabid Death's Curse” is the production of this album, which is way, way more harsh and obscure than the albums, which will follow the debut years later. This sound stinks with sulphur and infernal tar and is truly raw, but in a good way… I mean, this is classic black metal production, in my opinion quite alike to such “Kronet til Konge” for example (I have this impression especially when listening to the title song!)… It is harsh and rotten, but still quite powerful and more so, it brings out dark atmosphere of the music. At the same time it’s not perfect, as I realize that sometimes you may lose some guitar parts, here and there the riffs may be slightly unreadable or the music gets chaotic or messy a little. But this is black metal! And the music is obviously also different to the future, more popular Watain albums. Here everything is more uncompromising, faster, it’s cold and grim stuff… and way less melodic! Right with the first song “The Limb Crucifix” this LP is an explosion of utter hatred and an example for the classic black metal means. Nowadays everyone states that Watain has sold out, that their music became too acceptable to some public. Well, you may agree or not… but if you do, then give a listen to “Rabid Death's Curse” as this is as close to the origins of black metal as Watain has ever been to.
So, here is harsh and obscure black metal, very much in the vein of many Scandinavian classics, but that doesn’t mean it is unworthy or repetitive piece of junk. Ha, no way! This is truly awesome album, with several devastating – or should I say desecrating – tracks. Yes, it walks the path which was trodden by some cult bands like (mid era) Darkthrone, Mayhem, Triumphator, Funeral Mist, Marduk, of course there’re also some signs of Dissection style of arrangements and melodies, but not too many… YET (hehe). What I like about “Rabid Death's Curse” is how riff based, how aggressive this album is. I mentioned the song “The Limb Crucifx” – what a killer opener it is, with many fast and crushing parts that are forceful and violent as fuck. Then the title track is very much in the vein of Swedish black metal, of bands like Dissection and Sacramentum as there are even some traces of melody here and there… and yes, this is probably my favourite song here. It goes on and on and doesn’t stop, “Rabid Death's Curse” has awesome riffs spread all over the album, there are many truly killer parts. And I also just worship the atmosphere, which Watain has created on this LP. It is just dark, malevolent, cold and grim…
On a downside of “Rabid Death's Curse” I can say that it is a shame that the vocals are so low in the mix, I mean Eric Danielsson is a killer vocalist, but here his voice often disappears behind the wall of riffs and drumming, which is a shame, as his croaky voice would give more power to the whole music. Sometimes, even with the lyrics in the hand, it’s difficult to find out where is he, what lines he’s “singing”, which is a shame!
Standout tracks: “The Limb Crucifx”, “Rabid Death's Curse”

Final rate: 75/100

Monday, 8 September 2014

Armagedon - Invisible Circle / Dead Condemnation

ARMAGEDON - Invisible Circle / Dead Condemnation (THRASHING MADNESS CD 2014)
This is one of those reissues I was waiting to come for with a great hunger. All in all back in the early / mid 90’s Armagedon’s “Invisible Circle” belonged to my favourite death metal albums (SERIOUSLY!). I was still a kid, but already knew the best death and thrash metal classics… and I remember first time hearing about this band when I’ve read interview with them in Metal Hammer, supporting this (then upcoming) album… It was announced as second to Vader brilliant death metal band from Poland. And soon later I found that cassette in local record store and purchased it without hesitate, spending my all pocket money I had. And it seriously turned into a real beast; amazing album, which accompanied me for many years. But my old cassette is long dead, so I was waiting for a real re-issue! Sure, I also had that miserable CDR release from Apocalypse Productions, which was fine to have, but was not even half what I would expect! And finally in 2014 Thrashing Madness managed to properly exhume “Invisible Circle” and released this CD along with the awesome, classic “Dead Condemnation” demo. And this is the first time these recordings have such proper, quality release, so even if you still have your old tapes you may also consider buying this CD, as the booklet and music are all fantastic. OK, the booklet could have been better – read: maybe it could have some more information on the old days of Armagedon, some more extras like and look like it’s on the Merciless Death re-issues. Anyway, it’s not bad either: there are quite few archival band photos plus all the lyrics from the album (sadly, no lyrics from the demo)… Sure, those who like to moan will always find a reason to complain; I will keep myself quiet, as the most important is that these materials are finally available again and first time on CD (now, will there be also a vinyl version or not??).
Of course it is not easy to review an album, where you already know every sound perfectly… every song, every riff, drum bit, all vocals are there in the head, so there’s no surprise anymore and all became predictable. And where I listen to “Invisible Circle” today I just know it to perfection. Obviously the same I can say about many other classic records, such as “Altars of Madness”, “Testimony of the Ancients” or “Left Hand Path” – I know them perfectly also, but they’re a class higher than “Invisible Circle”, so they’ll never feel boring or monotonous and will always deliver the highest dose of energy one can get from music. In case of this debut CD of Armagedon I feel maybe slightly bored, but not because I don’t like this album, but just because – as I mentioned before – I just know it too well nowadays. So, it is just impossible for me to review it objectively, especially as I hold all those memories from the old days… but giving a honest review I can say that one thing is most important here and it is the fact that “Invisible Circle” survived the test of time perfectly and it didn’t grow old badly. It is still very vital material and it still sounds brilliantly aggressive, powerful and not archaic at all! This is how you recognize timeless classics!
I suppose that when I listen to “Invisible Circle” today two things come to my mind first. One is that I forgot how fast this music was, I suppose that Armagedon might have been one of the fastest death metal bands of the time in the country! Most of the songs have fast pace and sure, they’re not Krisiun fast and luckily they’re also not Krisiun-boring fast, but have plenty of variety, also with slower parts and many awesome arrangements… but I just forgot how many blasts are here and at the same time how brilliant were Armagedon’s ideas, song structures and arrangements. Secondly, the production… Hmm, I must say that this album sounded very good for the Polish standards of early 90’s. Sure, nowadays some may say that the guitars sound is slightly thin and surely would do better if it had more “juice” or “meat” – read: was heavier, more powerful. Also the drums could be better, but I suppose there’s no point in judging the production values from 20 years ago, as would it change anything? No, it would not.
Armagedon was rightfully considered to be the best after Vader Polish death metal band… and “Invisible Circle” will show you exactly why. Great musicianship, awesome ideas and arrangements with plenty of variety and absolute lack of stagnation and boredom, many absolutely fantastic songs – this is what you can find on the album. Armagedon was sort of a mixture of Polish death metal aggression alike to Vader, Betrayer and the classic American style of death metal. There are particular riffs / ideas / songs which do remind me such classic bands as Obituary, Malevolent Creation, Gorguts, Resurrection, Disincarnate, Cancer, Monstrosity, etc and that is a compliment, but at the same time it is just different! I can assure you that Armagedon didn’t have to be ashamed of themselves when confronting their music with all these more popular foreign representatives of death metal. Quality wise they were not so far behind them (and in some cases they were even better, in my opinion!).
It’s almost impossible to describe the whole content of “Invisible Circle” to those, who have never heard this album before. Why? Because so much is going on within this album. Yes, it is fairly traditional death metal, but Armagedon managed to compose several killer songs and incorporated so many different ideas that I would have to go track by track to describe it fully. The main scheme is what I described above: aggressive death metal in the Polish / US vein. There are fast, uncompromising songs such as “Death Liberates” and “In the Land of Uncertainty”, which both are a truly blasting opening and there’s also such “Two Faces” – aarrrgghhhh! But there are also such songs as “Circle of False Truths” (killer!!!!!), then “Instead of Epilogue”, which is almost epic in few moments and surely has some of the slower pieces off the whole album. Finally there’s the awesome “From Beyond Oneself”, where the keyboards sound damn good and provide a fantastic, dark, monumental atmosphere. For the entire duration the music is truly asskicking and I cannot find any fillers here, all songs are superb. And as I already mentioned, they didn’t get old at all, they still sound fresh! Sure, I wonder how would some of these tunes sound with current recording studio conditions, if were recorded in such Hertz Studio for instance… but I do hope that Armagedon will never want to find that out and will never re-record any of these old songs hehe!
Before “Invisible Circle” there was also “Dead Condemnation” demo. And trust me, this is surely one of my personal favourite demos ever! I love it. The production is just excellent, so aggressive, harsh but powerful… and the songs are perfect with “The Term of Existence” (which probably is even my most liked song in the whole Armagedon career) and “Inside the Soul” (what a fast bastard!!!!!!) being my favourites! The band already presented skills (both technical and compositional), which raised them well above 99% of the rest of Polish metal scene and had amazing quality of the recording and excellent material, better than most of the bands of the time. I suppose there’s only one song on the demo, which I don’t like so much and it is the last one called “Fate”, which has more thrash metal parts here and there and definitely lacks that spark and violence of the rest of the material. But who cares…
So, this is the whole “Invisible Circle / Dead Condemnation”. Yes, very very sought after release and I am so glad that it is finally out. So, get your copy now, even if you still have the old cassettes you just need the CD as well, trust me!
Standout tracks: “Death Liberates”, “Circle of False Truths”, “Two Faces”, “Instead of Epilogue”, “The Term of Existence”
Final rate: 89/100

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Hellsworn - Repulsive Existence

HELLSWORN - Repulsive Existence (Eldritch Lunar Miasma Records - CD 2014)
Ya, ya, ya… I know that probably you don’t need another old styled death metal band. And if it sounds Swedish, then it is even more unwanted anymore. Fuck off with these opinions though – not originality counts (you cunts hehe), but the music, the feeling of it, passion and the poison, which is in these sounds and which is able to infect you body with sheer aggression and obscurity! And this British death kommando gave me all that! And yeah, their name is probably taken from the awesome Demonical LP and they do play the same style of Svensk Döds Metall, but they do it so well that I just don’t care whether it sounds unoriginal and over explored. That’s not the reason for me to reject such an awesome band!
Interestingly Hellsworn is only debuting with this CD “Repulsive Existence”, but quality wise they sound better than the majority of similar acts. This is killer death metal, with impressive dark, obscure atmosphere, great feeling, vicious and aggressive riffing and that powerful energy, which forces me to play it as loud as possible and bang my skull like a damn maniac. The music is truly infectious, some of these riffs are totally memorable like in “Repulsive Existence” and “Lifeless”… and yes, the shadow of Dismember or Carnage is floating over Hellsworn all the time, but take that as a compliment! These are just damn good death metal songs. And the production is also great, with that guitar tone, which we all love.
So, to conclude – for me Hellsworn is brilliant. Ha, it is actually yet another awesome British death metal, which I am so fuckin happy to have in my collection. For years this country was useless, when speaking of good, brutal music – the old legends were either dead or sucked cocks, only Bolt Thrower and Benediction were standing pride… but recent years are a real resurrection of the scene in UK, with hordes such as Cruciamentum, Grave Miasma, Sheol, Vallenfyre and now also Hellsworn… A nice pint of cold ale or shitty cider for them all then!
Standout tracks: “Repulsive Existence”, “Lifeless”

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 5 September 2014

Belphegor - The Last Supper

BELPHEGOR - The Last Supper (LAST EPISODE - CD 1999)
Unbelievable how quickly the time passed away... Almost two decades ago I’ve read an interview with – then unknown – Austrian band called Belphegor in Metal Side Mag. Back then, I think it was in 1995, I never heard of them before, but soon later I managed to get their second and third albums… and now so many years later Belphegor is a well know extreme death / black metal beast, with several better or worse, but all solid albums, signed to a major record label, with performances on many tours and big festivals… Damn, who would think that it will all turn out this way? I can’t call myself the biggest Belphegor maniac, although I do like this band, I have most of their albums and most of them are truly good. But to be honest, my favourites from their discography are the albums from the pre-Nuclear Blast era… such as this early piece of blasphemous noise “The Last Supper” originally released in 1995 by Lethal Records. Sadly I never had a chance to get a first press CD, but at least I have the 1999 Last Episode re-issue which is cool, because it has some bonus tracks. What I don’t like about this version is that it doesn’t have the original artwork, which was so bloody cool… but well, at least it contains the classic “Obscure and Deep” EP plus some more songs (mainly covers). For them, it is worth to have this version as well.
I am really fascinated that already on the first album Belphegor had their own, characteristic style. From the very first notes you can really hear it is Belphegor, with their specific riffing, relentless, throat-cutting guitar work, mostly fast tempos, utter violence and aggression and finally with the blasphemous lyrics and possessed vocals of Helmuth! Arrghh, and I must not forget about the diabolic atmosphere of their music! Yes, this is totally satanic, mad, possessed and sacrilegious metal and Belphegor always creates this blood freezing, eerie an evil atmosphere, which I love totally. It’s not a common black / death metal, but as I said Belphegor is very characteristic, with these powerful, razor sharp and aggressive riffs, very fast pace, but also with some slower, more catchy songs, where there’s always a memorable chorus part… Of course some people say that Belphegor sometimes eats its own tail and repeats the same patterns too often, some songs are copies of some other… well, I can see what these opinions are based on, but it doesn’t change the fact that this music is still damn good. And “The Last Supper” belongs to the best albums of Belphegor I suppose, even if the sound here is the most vicious and harsh and that the band’s best songs and riffs are yet to come on the future albums. But damn, listen to such tracks as “Impalement Without Mercy”, “March of the Dead”, “The Last Supper” or “D.I.E. (Drowned in Excrements)” – aren’t they fantastic? OK, one or two other songs are maybe not quite as good, but as overall I think that this is very good album indeed.
I mentioned that Last Episode version of “The Last Supper” contains some bonus tracks… and well, the first one is “Krucifixion” cover of pre-Belphegor band called Betrayer. And it is quite raw, kind of archaic sounding pure death metal, nothing majorly interesting, far from the vicious and blasphemous style of Belphegor. The song is mediocre, the production is also not the best… so I don’t like it too much. Then there’s the excellent “Obscure and Deep” EP, which is awesome I think. Finally the Black Sabbath cover is something I would rather forget, as it sounds crap in my opinion, but that Sodom cover of “Outbreak of Evil” is not so bad at all. All in all I think that “The Last Supper” is a very good album, if you like harsh and fast, blasphemous death / black metal then you know Belphegor and I don’t have to recommend it anymore.
Standout tracks: “Impalement Without Mercy”, “March of the Dead”, “The Last Supper”

Final rate: 75/100

Panchrysia / Iconoclasm - The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell

PANCHRYSIA / ICONOCLASM - The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell (SHIVER Records - CD 2006)
After I recently reviewed Iconoclasm’s album “Iconoclastic Warfare” I tried to figure if I have some more CDs from this Belgian band… And yes! I have found one more, which is their 2006 split with Panchrysia. Damn, I bought this so many years ago and probably listened to it just couple of times before it got lost in the mess of CDs/LPs, etc. Cool then than just like “Iconoclastic Warfare” I can also exhume this split. And certainly I am happy even more when the music turns out to be so damn awesome as what I can find on “The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell”! Yeah, both bands did great job here, both deliver some truly awesome and devastating songs and I just don’t know why have I forgot about this CD for so many years. Mistake like that won’t happen again hehe… and as a redemption, I am writing this review, as I just want to recommend you all this great stuff. Believe me, there are some killer songs here!
“The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell” starts with Panchrysia, which I remember by the name only, I can’t remember hearing much music from them, except this split of corpse. Well, I must say that Panchrysia is just excellent! Sure, they are totally infected by Satyricon, but I love Satyricon, so maybe this is the reason why I also like Panchrysia so much? Anyway, there are riffs, vocals, the atmosphere and song structures, patterns, which really remind me the famous Norwegian band, sometimes it’s almost on a verge of maybe not plagiarism, but well… let’s just say that it’s really, really damn close. What makes Panchrysia music interesting, despite this huge influence of Satyricon, is that they seem to be more old school than the Norwegians are nowadays, the feeling of Panchrysia music is darker and more obscure, also the production is cruder, there’re are some great fast parts, like in the song called “The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell”… So, generally Panchrysia nailed these songs perfectly for me, I love them a lot and damn, if you like “Vulcano” LP then I can assure you that these Belgians may interest you as well. Only the additional live track called “Angst” is something I did not like, I always skip it when I listen to this CD, the rest are three lengthy anthems of killer (modern) black metal. And I wonder if the style and quality of “The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell” is the same also on some of their full length albums? Damn, I must check them out!
As for Iconoclasm, they do not disappoint either and deliver something I expected to hear, after getting smashed by “Iconoclastic Warfare”. Five songs from them are pure, aggressive and thrashing black metal pieces, filled with violent riffs, harsh vocals, old school feeling and black metal atmosphere. I love how fast, insanely aggressive and harsh the music of those Belgians is in such track “Hellmouth”, when it sounds like all the hell got loose hehe, pure insanity - definitely the best song of all, which Iconoclasm prepared for this split! And then we have something like “Rebel of Hate”, which is more traditional, more old school and damn classic sounding thrash / black metal, with a lot of influence from the classic German thrash scene and such Kreator and Destruction. There are lots of killer riffs, a total headbanger kind of metal and generally if you’re into such Aura Noir, Nocturnal Breed, Witchmaster, maybe even Toxic Holocaust and so on, then I can bet that you’ll like also Iconoclasm. Great band, indeed, but so underestimated!
Uffff… You know what? I realize that the metal scene has spat out thousands of demos, EPs, albums, splits during past 30 or more years and it is simply impossible to know all of them. But if I was to recommend you some unknown bands, which recorded truly killer songs and maybe did a split CD, which is so bloody fantastic, then “The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell” would be my recommendation. Wow, it is absolutely killer stuff. Sure, both bands are different, maybe Iconoclasm would fit more suitably to some Australian hordes or Aura Noir, but who cares… this is great CD. I am so glad I dusted it off!
Standout tracks:The Ultimate Crescendo of Hell”, “Hellmouth”

Final rate: 80/100