Friday, 31 October 2014

Klabautamann - Our Journey Through the Woods

KLABAUTAMANN - Our Journey Through the Woods (Self released CD 2003)
What a tongue breaker is the name of this band! Klabautamann! Hehe, seriously, come on! I’ve read on Metal Archives an explanation of this name, which is (quote): “Klabautamann is a way of writing Klabautermann, a goblin that predicts shipwrecks”. Hey, simple Morbid Fuck is not enough? Hehe, of course I am joking now, don’t listen to me. Hehe, but hey, listen to some really fuckin awesome music, from a band, which probably is known to only few people around. Sad that Klabautamann never got any bigger, as I am sure that their music has quality, which could and should provide them more attention. But what can I expect if their albums were released by small labels? “Our Journey Through the Woods” has been self released by the band first and later in 2008 re-released by Vendlus Records. I think I have the first version, as there’s no label name anywhere to be found in the booklet or CD disc. Whatever… A nice album, with really cool artwork, which I think was done by the same artist, whose works were used by Mortiis. This artwork can give you an idea that “Our Journey Through the Woods” will not be a raw and primitive, satanic black metal, but something more atmospheric. And yes, it is exactly that – atmospheric, slightly folky, epic black metal. Awesome stuff.
First we have a melancholic intro, which is more like a calm before the storm, as soon “Der Nöck” erupts with nice and fast black metal riffing, similar to… hmm, and here I could probably mention few bands, but two, which I have a strongest resemblance to would be German masters Helrunar and Helhiem from Norway. Add to it some Agalloch, Enslaved and here we go… You may have a nice idea what is Klabautamann like. Awesome music, as I already wrote! “Der Nöck” has so many killer parts; it begins with fast piece, but then becomes slower, more atmospheric, but still quite aggressive and angry! The riffing is not that typical, but if you know the bands I mentioned above then you’ll recognize that style! They even used an acoustic guitar as a background to one riff and these German lyrics fit so perfectly here (just like in Helrunar, so maybe this is why I have this resemblance)… all in all, that song is a real smasher. And that’s not everything what Klabautamann has prepared, the entire album is filled with greatness. If you like a real Agalloch-like tune then I recommend you “Rabenmorgen”; built upon some acoustic passages, with some slightly folky atmospheres… Yes, very good indeed. I really enjoy bands, which are able to combine the harshness of black metal with acoustics and atmospheric stuff and Klabautamann is in my opinion just as good as mentioned Agalloch.
Klabautamann managed to create a properly dark, sorrowful, melancholic atmosphere, which probably fits perfectly to their fantasy lyrics (and I write probably, as no lyrics are to be found in the booklet, so I can only guess by the song titles!). Songs like “Rabenmorgen” and “Seaghost” are awesome examples for that. They’re later followed by acoustic instrumental “Elfentanz”. But in case you feel bored with such quieter moments, then Klabautamann attacks with songs like “Tower of Sorcery” – fast, harsh, aggressive black metal, but one which still holds that atmospheric, sometimes slightly melodic side, so it does fit to the whole album and doesn’t sound like something thrown within by accident. Some riffs are maybe not so usual for black metal style (listen to “Trolldance”), but there’s no one single bad moment on the album. If you have any doubts, then give a listen to the final anthem called “Autumn’s Death” – an epic over eight minutes long masterpiece, filled with awesome harmonies, acoustics, atmosphere, but also with real raging parts. Yes, incredible piece.
So, if you call yourself a fan of atmospheric black metal, especially of the bands I mentioned in this review, then I strongly recommend you finding “Our Journey Through the Woods”. I am not sure if it’s rare or not, Klabautamann is not a well known band, so there’s a strong hope to find it here and there cheap, I guess, so if you happen to see a copy – do not hesitate to buy it. Very good band, indeed!
Standout tracks: “Der Nöck”, “Rabenmorgen”, “Seaghost”, “Autumn’s Death”

Final rate: 80/100

Einherjer - Dragons of the North

EINHERJER - Dragons of the North (NAPALM Records - CD 1996)
I would rather be honest and admit right away that the so called Viking metal is simply not my favourite thing. Sure, there are maybe two or three bands, which I will always admire – and they’re Bathory obviously (but with albums number four to six!! I’m not so much into last Quorthon’s works), then Enslaved (from all their LPs!), Helheim (all!), also Windir… and that’s it. I can of course mention also quite few bands like Thyrfing, Manegarm, Moonsorrow, Falkenbach, Finntroll, which are good, I may even have and like some albums of theirs, but not so many and not so obsessively. And also Einherjer in amongst them. I suppose that the main problem with many bands from this style is that their music tends to be too soft, too “happy” hehe, with these humpa – humpa rhythms that want to take you to a dance around a fire rather than force maniacal headbanging and go berserk! I hate all that “take a horn of ale and sing along” shit! I prefer if the music is aggressive, but monumental and epic. It can be melodic, but must have dark, majestic atmosphere. Unfortunately many of the bands I mentioned go different way, like Finntroll for example, who released several albums, which I just can’t listen to at all. Einherjer is also one of those bands, which have better but also some worse albums. And they also suffer for the “too melodic / too catchy” syndrome. And they had it ever since the debut album “Dragons of the North”, which I am going to try to review now.
But with this album it’s rather weird thing that despite being what it is, “Dragons of the North” is still able to catch my attention. I don’t know… there’s something intriguing in this material, what makes me like it even if it’s almost against my usual musical preferences. Or maybe it’s just a fact that Einherjer wrote simply good songs for their debut. One thing is certain – since these beginnings, this band sounded pretty original, with their unique way of playing riffs, which also forced a specific rhythms and drumming, incorporating melodies, keyboards, etc into the songs and finally the vocals of Rune Bjelland are also not so common. So, despite sounding like a music played by some drunken, merry Viking people, “Dragons of the North” is still not bad at all.
So, I grab that damn cup of ale (sorry, no horns in my home, what a poser I am!), get drunk and sing along with Einherjer their happy hymns. Why do I even like this album? I mean, it sounds so infantile, so simple… But it has some good, memorable songs, filled with catchy, folky melodies / riffs, some acoustic parts, keyboards, but they’re epic and monumental enough. Really, each song from the album has these infectious parts what makes them utterly memorable and next time you play “Dragons of the North” you realize that you start to sing with the band hehe! I am not saying that I like all songs or that the album is flawless, because it is not! But such songs like “Dragons of the North” (with nice Bathory feeling), “Dreamstorm” are just good. I also like “Conquerer”, because it is a nice combination of slightly more angry riff and melody. These songs are lengthy, but Einherjer managed to create structures, with some cool arrangements, nice instrumental parts, a lot of diversity (love that acoustic break in “Storm of the Elder”), also vocals are often different (with Rune’s harsher vocals and Audud’s clean singing), so it is a good listen. Sure, this album will disappoint listeners, who prefer only harsh and aggressive stuff. But if you’re looking for well composed, melodic, yet epic Viking metal, then I think this debut from Einherjer is one of the best choices. 
Standout tracks: “Dragons of the North”, “Conquerer”

Final rate: 70/100

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Convent - Abandon Your Lord

CONVENT - Abandon Your Lord (OLD TEMPLE - CD 2009)
Polish death metal is a dangerous weapon. You won’t even blink an eye before you find your head chopped off, guts ripped off and all limbs cut off. You’ll bleed and bleed out dry before the album is finished. Yeah, we have many killer bands here… So, in case you don’t know them all, let me introduce you one more destructive force, called Convent! With my review of “Blessed Amongst the Flock” demo I already mentioned why I think this band is so underrated and unknown, but this is a pity, as their music has just as much to offer as the albums of Trauma, Vader, Armagedon, Calm Hatchery and so on and on. They were simply unlucky and more so, are quiet for too many years hiding somewhere in the shadows. Anyway, “Abandon Your Lord” album was recorded back in 2006! It took the band three years to find a label, which wanted to release it (Old Temple in 2009, released it in limited quantity of 1000 copies). And here are some my thoughts on it…
I described in previous review of Convent how much I liked “Blessed Amongst the Flock” demo. It was short, but so fuckin impressive, so violent and intense. “Abandon Your Lord” is pretty much the same. The music is again truly extreme, aggressive, brutal death metal, played often in fast and utterly uncompromising, merciless ways. Convent is quite technical, the riffs sound quite modern – or classic US / Polish death metal – but at the same time the band has this old school feeling, dark, blasphemous and obscure atmosphere, which immediately reminds me such bands like Damnation (Polish of corpse!), Azarath and Dissenter. There’s similar precision in execution and torture, similar aggression and attitude towards this music. And it simply sounds impressive. Damn, “Abandon Your Lord” is old school in some matters, but has no limits, so there’re some technical fireworks here and there, quite many tempo changes, sick, lunatic guitar leads, some more unconventional arrangements… All these things work only for the best results. Certainly Convent did awesome job on “Abandon Your Lord”. Let me also mention really good, powerful and heavy production of this album! Such death metal must have a strong, powerful sound and “Abandon Your Lord” certainly has.
When you’ll listen to “Abandon Your Lord” and survive all nine songs, which Convent prepared, then you can get yourself ready also for sort of bonus song, for something titled “Tribute”, which will surprise many of you. What it is? Nothing more, nor less, but Slayer’s “Seasons in the Abyss” played with help and arrangement of philharmonic orchestra! Wow, that is something unusual. I can’t say that I am a big fan of such arranged tracks; probably I’m not, but it surely has been a nice surprise and something I would never expect to hear from such brutal and extreme, underground death metal band. A nice addition to the whole album, surely. 
Standout tracks: “Abandon Your Lord”, “Lapsed”, “Oppositive to the Nature”, “Captive of the Force of Satan”

Final rate: 80/100 

Monday, 27 October 2014

Convent - Blessed Amongst the Flock

CONVENT - Blessed Amongst the Flock (Self financed demo 2002)
It’s incomprehensible that when people mention the best Polish death metal bands, then Convent – one of the longest running acts here – is hardly ever remembered and mentioned. Well, I suppose it doesn’t take much to guess why… all in all, the reason is rather obvious: only one full length album released in 2009 by a small Polish label, plus few demos are not enough to bring the attention and recognition not only in your home country, but also abroad. So, Convent is known and remembered only to the diehard underground death metal maniacs. Time to change it and recommend some recordings of this awesome Polish death squadron! I have four releases of them, here I want to write few words about “Blessed Amongst the Flock”!
“Blessed Amongst the Flock” is a three tracker, demo, which the band released in 2002, for promotional purpose only. I was lucky to get one copy and just played it several times today. Yeah, but I played it several times not just because it is less than ten minutes of music, but also because I really like this demo a lot! It is a real shredder and ultimate, brutal death metal attack; violent, morbid, extreme and brutal, bone crushing, guts ripping death metal! And interesting thing about this demo is that all these songs later were also recorded for “Abandon Your Lord” album (2006), but maybe I like them more in these demo versions?! Hehe! Well, these three songs composed into one short material work like a quick execution and sound almost like a classic 7” single!
“Blessed Amongst the Flock” has a strong, very powerful, very rough, but excellent sound, which fits such death metal perfectly. Every riff is slashing like a razor, is heavy and brilliantly massive, the drums are also good and the vocals perfect… In the end these sounds will make your ears bleed, that strong is the intensity and violence of this music, which Convent plays on each of these three songs. This death metal is totally uncompromising, with great, fast tempos, mighty, crushing riffs, some technical fireworks, but without going into lame shit. Soooo nice, just like Damnation, Azarath or Dissenter! I am quite surprised Convent never achieved a bigger recognition with such awesome music… and damn, I must say that this demo would sound extremely great on a 7”EP!

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 24 October 2014

Offence - R.A.W.

Oh weeeeee… another excellent surprise from the last weeks is this debut album of Polish band called Offence. So far they got a small recognition with one song that was featured on the split 7” vinyl and cassette with Throneum. And yes, this one track titled “Revenge Is Significant” was great indeed, I also liked the rough and obscure sound, which Offence had there. But that was only one song, so we couldn’t guess how will Offence really handle on a longer recording. Finally two years later we could hear what they are the capable of, as “R.A.W.” album was released by Mad Lion! It contains 10 songs (including new version of “Revenge Is Significant”). And yeah, I am really positively surprised about Offence and their music. I truly enjoyed this album a lot and surely consider it to be one of the better Polish debuts of the past year.
There’s one significant change, which you could spot when comparing the album to a song from 7”EP and that is the sound on both recordings. I liked how “Revenge Is Significant” sounded on the EP, for it had truly great harsh, morbid, sick sound, quite well fitting to the obscurity and horrid style of both Offence and Throneum. Meanwhile “R.A.W.” sounds so different, surprisingly the guitar tone for example is very close to the classic Swedish tone, like in the good old days of Entombed and Dismember. Ha, that’s something I would never expect to hear. Anyway, the result is truly awesome, because “R.A.W.” sounds great, has awesome feeling, lots of aggression and lethal power, so I can’t complain at all. This is really good production.
Musically Offence performs rather simple, generic, total old school death metal worship, based on simple riffs, mid paced or slow tempos, harsh vocals of Hellscreamaross… and that simplicity of Offence music works brilliant here. Sure, Offence doesn’t play anything original, more so their music seems to be as explored like the old mines, but they have such a great feeling, aggression, so many dynamics and simple, pure energy… that for me it is impossible to resist these sounds. It has almost punk feeling in some places, it’s quite groovy in some other, all in all it is just cool, merciless death metal carnage in the old, classic vein. I feel like Offence music is sometimes almost relaxing hehe, surely with songs like “Alcoholic Solution” the band may seem to be more unserious than the majority of grim, super serious, occult or whatever bands, so it is also a nice change (one song is even based on the life of Mark "Chopper" Read). So, grab some beers or whisky or whatever liquids you like, play this CD damn loud and just enjoy some awesome death metal tunes. 
Standout tracks: “Offence”, “Revenge is Significant”, “Toxic Bitch”, “The Shot”

Final rate: 75/100

Cinis - Vile Angel

CINIS - Vile Angel (Self released demo 2005)
Ha, just found another forgotten but awesome demo in my archives! How can it be possible to forget that I have something? It’s simple - too much stuff is lying around hehe, so sometimes I get something, listen to it few times and then put away to the box, completely forgetting about its existence hehe. Not easy to keep a track, if you have so much stuff. And that must have been a case with the demo of Polish death metal commando Cinis whose “Vile Angel” arrived to me some years ago and since then got covered with dust and slime. Really cool that I managed to find it again! With three songs on it, it’s a real death metal feast and blast.
For the demo recording, I must say that “Vile Angel” has really good production! It sounds better than many full length albums, really (demo was recorded and produced by Pierścień from Incarnated!). Heavy, thick guitar sound, good drumming, sick vocals – it has all the components, which make a death metal so sick and brutal. Plus it has also really good songs. Cinis doesn’t make it in over technical way, they rather focused on simpler, but massive riffs, which would sound brutal, but also sort of memorable. It doesn’t mean that the music is simplistic, but it’s not a technical show off, so I am very happy about it. It blasts like crazy, with many fast parts, but also has few slower fragments, which are about to crush you into the floor and break neck with no mercy. The vocals are quite specific, not so guttural like in similar bands, but maybe more hmm… how can I describe them? More atmospheric, darker? All in all, the music has some similarities to such Lost Soul, Vader and that should be enough for recommendation. Ever since “Vile Angel” Cinis recorded two full length albums and I am very eager to hear them, what I hope will happen sooner than later.

Final rate: 70/100

Obtained Enslavement - The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell

OBTAINED ENSLAVEMENT - The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell (NAPALM Records - CD 2000)
I don’t know if it’s only my imagination, but when people discuss black metal bands from Norway then they often forget about Obtained Enslavement. I also forget this band repeatedly. It surely is not because I think they were unworthy being mentioned! No, I really like all three albums of this band, but maybe it’s just because Obtained Enslavement was never considered a leading force on the Norwegian black metal scene and then it makes us forget about their uniqueness and brilliance? Well, for sure they are a band, which every maniac of this music should know and have their albums in the collection. They’re probably one of the first bands, which can be called symphonic black metal, but their music – despite having a strong keyboard / orchestral background – was simply way more harsh and uncompromising when compared to other symphonic bands like Odium, Tartaros or Morgul for instance. “Soulblight” and “Witchcraft” are surely killer albums. But there’s also one more, which I think people often don’t mention, maybe because it’s not quite as good as the two I just mentioned and it differs musically a little bit… I am talking about “The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell”. The approach on this album is slightly different I think, for more easily listenable music, filled with melodic or even catchy, memorable parts, less chaotic, rough and less fast and finally with the good, professional production. So, gone is the real dark and obscure atmosphere of earlier albums… but don’t be afraid, “The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell” is still a very good effort.
If I can mentioned some other bands, which are close to “The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell” then I would say that this album is so diverse than every song or particular fragment can remind you something else. For example the way this album begins, with the first riff in the song “Scrolls of the Shadowland” is for me a true déjà vu, with Enslaved’s “I lenker til Ragnarok” from “Blodhemn”. Very similar riff, really… but then this song goes in completely different territory, so it is just a coincidence. And this motif is fast and really powerful, luckily it is not the only such fast and uncompromising part on the whole album, as there are more! They remind me bands like Odium for example and surely sound really damn good! In other moments the music reminds me Diabolical Masquerade, Enslaved, Dimmu Borgir, Tartaros, Kvist, to give just few names. Combine all these bands and you’ll receive what “The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell” is like. That first song “Scrolls of the Shadowland” is surely among the best, with great opening theme, which is furious and aggressive, but it also has a nice, epic chorus with killer clean vocals and with melody that will stick in you for good. But Obtained Enslavement shows good composing skills through the whole album. It doesn’t matter if someone will call it a more commercial and listener-friendly take on black metal (how can black metal be commercial at all???), just because it is often more melodic or because the sound is cleaner. All in all, it still has such tracks like “Stepping Over Angels”, filled with anger and ferocity. Or “Ride the Whore”!
But I like this album not only for its aggressive side, but for as it is in its entirety: for its diversity, also for the atmospheric and melodic parts, which simply sound very good here. Take the title track for that matter. It definitely is the slowest and most melodic of all, but it still sounds damn good and has that melancholic feeling, which fits great the whole album. So, I honestly recommend you this material. I don’t think it has been re-issed or if it’s still available, but nowadays everything gets re-released, so I am sure that also Obtained Enslavement will get their chance and all their album will appear again on both CD and LP. If they do, get all their stuff, “The Shepherd…” album as well, as it is just damn awesome. 
Standout tracks: “Scrolls of the Shadowland”, “The Shepherd and the Hounds of Hell”, “Stepping Over Angels”, “Ride the Whore”

Final rate: 80/100

Hades - Dawn of the Dying Sun

HADES - Dawn of the Dying Sun (FULL MOON Productions - LP 1997)
“…Gathered are they… the wolves from the North”
I’m listening to “Dawn of the Dying Sun” and I have two things to say in the beginning. First is that this album is simply a killer follower to “…Again Shall Be”, which was Hades’ classic debut LP. I still think that “…Again…” belongs to the most important Norwegian black metal albums from the early 90’s. Secondly, I am frustrated, because I have the original vinyl version of “Dawn of the Dying Sun” released by Full Moon Productions and this LP simply sucks, speaking of the pressing quality! Not only the whole stuff looks poor (no insert, no lyrics, etc), but the vinyl sounds simply bad. There are some disturbing noises in three songs, which almost ruin the whole album! Not only the vinyl itself sounds quite mediocre, speaking of the sound quality, but it also has that static noise! Can it be worse? Shame, as I said. Of corpse there was also a second press LP, released by Witching Hour, as a double LP with some bonus tracks, but I never bought it, when it was available, so now I am left with this shitty LP from Full Moon Prods. Damn, I know “Dawn of the Dying Sun” also from CD and it sounded way better than on this old vinyl. So, lesson to learn: get Witching Hour LP version asap and then waste this Full Moon version.
Great shame that there are all these problems with LP, more so because “Dawn of the Dying Sun” is such an awesome album and it surely equals “…Again Shall Be”. Musically it is a rightful continuation of the debut LP, so again Hades hits us with their blend of rough and obscure black metal spiced with the epic and monumental playing and almost majestic atmosphere, with their Viking themed music. In many ways “Dawn of the Dying Sun” feels even more bombastic, more monumental to the debut, and that is probably because firstly it is completely devoid of any faster parts and secondly these riffs here are simply crushing and barbaric. Plus the production, which is so unlike to ANY OTHER ALBUM (!!!) you’ve ever heard before and after. Yes! “Dawn of the Dying Sun” has truly outstanding but also unique, very dirty sound quality and it may take you a while to get use to it, but once you do then it will only unveil some truly excellent songs. And to describe the album with one sentence, I would call it incredibly harsh and raw, monumental Viking / black metal. Epic masterpiece. It is obscure, slow, but aggressive… it has great majestic feeling and more so, it also is quite melodic in some parts. Two tracks are my real favourites: “Awakening of Kings” and “Crusade of the Underworld Hordes”. The first one is a real killer, maybe even Hades’ best song ever, with truly outstanding riffing, which is accompanied by nice acoustic background (I simply love how this song begins!) and awesome harsh, sick vocals of Janto… This song sounds just spectacular, has such an amazing atmosphere and is nothing more, but a greatest hymn to the North! And “Crusade of the Underworld Hordes” is the first song I heard from this album on a compilation CD back in 1997 and it is definitely the most aggressive, most powerful track here, these riffs in it are so damn heavy, so massive, but still very memorable.
I mentioned two songs, but to be honest I think that the whole album is just flawless and Hades once more recorded simply perfect album. I can mention some more killers: “Pagan Prayer”, “Alone Walkyng”, the title song… “Apocalyptic Prophecies (The Sign of Hades)” (with some really great parts of keyboards!)… There’s a strong influence of Bathory through the whole album, but the style of Hades has been taken way further, into more obscure and heavy territories. It’s like a combination of Bathory, Enslaved, Aeternus, Immortal first album, but different anyway. And we could discuss long why is this album so underrated… I feel like it is almost forgotten! If anyone mentions Hades, then it’s because of their demo and “…Again Shall Be”, not because of “Dawn of the Dying Sun”. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is truly superb release and one of my favourite Norwegian black metal albums of all time. 
Standout tracks: “Awakening of Kings”, “Crusade of the Underworld Hordes”, “Pagan Prayer”, “Alone Walkyng”, “Apocalyptic Prophecies (The Sign of Hades)”

Final rate: 90/100

Monday, 20 October 2014

Ghost - Bad Obsession

GHOST - Bad Obsession (Thrashing Madness - CD 2014)
“Bad… fuckin kurwa… Obsession”! Damn, I can’t believe this demo is released on CD! How it is even possible hehe!? I am so intrigued, because it was maybe even the FIRST demo cassette, which I have bought in my life! I remember that I bought that tape in my local music store just because it was cheaper than the licensed death metal albums from bigger bands and I didn’t have more money hehe, so even if I didn’t know Ghost before, I decided to buy “Bad Obsession” (originally released by Carnage Records). I simply liked the artwork and more so, these guys had been wearing killer t-shirts of bands like Obituary and Cannibal Corpse, so it must have been good. Hehe! Yeah, over 20 years have passed, but I still remember it like it was yesterday hehe. It’s sad that I don’t have that tape anymore, so the more happy I am that Thrashing Madness released “Bad Obsession” on CD (just as they did it with “The Lost of Mercy” album!). And as always the whole packaging is something truly extra. We get a fat, glossy booklet with a lot of cool stuff in it (including liner notes from band members, scans from the old fanzines with interviews, etc). But most importantly, the CD offers us three demos! Yes! First, there’s “Bad Obsession” and then there are two earlier recordings of Ghost, which I honestly never heard before: “Noc Demona” and “Ghost II”, both from 1989! Isn’t that a fine compilation?
Many years have passed since I had a chance to hear “Bad Obsession” last time. Funny, but I still remember every damn song, every damn riff and vocals part from this demo hehe. You simply don’t forget these things, especially if it was one of the first cassettes you ever bought and listened to it dozens of times. You know, in the early 90’s the number of cassettes I had in my collection was what? 50 maybe? So obviously I was listening to these albums / demos fuckin a lot. It’s not like nowadays, when I have almost 3000 items in the collection and sometimes I listen to an album 4-5 times and then come back to it not sooner but in ten years, hardly knowing and remembering it. What sucks of corpse hehe! But that’s how the present times are… too many bands, too many records. So, yes, I still remember “Bad Obsession” damn well, but I am surprised that nowadays I enjoy listening to this demo so much! I thought I would feel maybe slightly bored, but no! I really love it and have kind of fresh perspective on this demo. For me, it definitely is a fantastic relict of the past, but it has a great feeling, that music is damn good, very brutal, powerful… and these vocals… yeah, this is truly sick shit! “Bad Obsession” is very much influenced by the US death metal school, by bands such as Baphomet, Morpheus Descends, Obituary, Brutality, but it has also a small original touch to it… “Bad Obsession” is a collection of really good songs, such as “Behind the Bars”, “Black Visions”, “Morbid Game”, “Kings of Darkness”. The production is quite unique with not typical guitar sound and vocals, I think, but it’s good, rotten, filthy and heavy as hell. Definitely a worthy recording, so please listen to it!
Now… if you’re familiar with “Bad Obsession” and “The Lost of Mercy”, then both “Noc Demona” and “Ghost II” demos will surely surprise you a lot… because Ghost sounds completely different on these demos! No brutal death metal here, but a total speed / thrash in its most vicious and archaic forms! Yeah, Ghost was closer to such Merciless Death, Dragon, Armagedon (from their 80’s demos!), Thanatos (PL), Manslaughter or very early Vader rather than to Obituary. Riffs are sharp, fast, aggressive as hell and the vocals are typically harsh style of singing, with Polish lyrics. Very typical late 80’s Polish extreme metal, I would say. And maybe Ghost lacked a bit of charisma, but great and solid stuff they did for sure. Both demos are pretty much similar, but I suppose I like “Noc Demona” slightly more, how nice demo it is! Of course you can only imagine how cruel and harsh is the production of it, but it simply has its amazing charm and atmosphere! Great slashing riffing, a lot of aggression, a lot of truly fast, almost chaotic playing… what a feast! Ghost played fast like crazy, truly no mercy, no compromise, just speed / thrash to the maximum! And these infantile, satanic lyrics hehe! Just look at these titles hehe! Yes, it sounds so archaic today, so old, so “from the distant past”… but as already mentioned, it has the unique and unrepeatable charm, so it always brings me a cool feeling, when I play such music. Ghost surely was one of the best Polish bands in the days of old, so I totally recommend you this nice collection of their ancient demos. Very nice addition to everyone’s collection for sure. 

Final rate: 80/100

Cień - Time of Desolation

CIEŃ - Time of Desolation (Self released demo 2012)
Not sure, if you’re a fan of depressive, melancholic, maybe slightly doomy black metal, but if you are then here I have really cool band to recommend to you. It’s Polish Cień (Polish for “Shadow”) and damn, they’re really awesome in my opinion. Not so well known, “Time of Desolation” is only their second demo, but I suppose it’s good time for introducing and recommending you all to Cień music, as they’re just about to release their debut album “Ecce Homo” for Old Temple Records. And damn, if the music will be as good as on this demo, then it will be a very good effort. And I am sure that it will be as good, if not even better!
I must admit that I was quite surprised, when I’ve listened to “Time of Desolation”, because I didn’t expect to hear such good music from completely unknown band. In fact I thought it will be something completely useless, so the more astonished I was after listening to Cień. “Time of Desolation” caught my attention right with their first song, which opens with quite untypical (for black metal) riff. Maybe this is why „Despair, Tears and Blood” reminds me bands like Khold or Tulus… because of this main riff, rhythm, but also harsh vocals and the overall atmosphere within this song. This track is based on this black’n’roll riff – if I can it this way, but it doesn’t avoid also some more melodic fragments, which are present in the further part of the song. It already catches that melancholic, sorrowful mood, which later Cień captures even more in such “The Clock”, which reminds me the depressive, mournful atmospheres from Shining records. One of the greatest characteristics for the whole “Time of Desolation” is its diversity though. There is slow, doomy “The Clock”, but there’s also “Dead or Alive”, which is way faster and more aggressive and angry black metal song. Finally I must mention also “Where Is Your God?”, a superb song, which has a slight post black metal feeling, which I like a lot and also the strongest melodic background. Yes, each track on this demo offers something brilliant, each is quite memorable and catchy, but the final result is simply brilliant.
I must also mention really great production of “Time of Desolation”, as well as great musicianship, composition skills and arrangements (with some acoustic guitars, etc)… simply awesome performance of the whole band, including the vocalist. Luckily Cień didn’t even try to copy Furia or other Polish bands from similar musical style and went for something different. The result on this demo is great. Now I really have strong hopes for “Ecce Homo”!
Standout tracks: “Where Is Your God?”, “The Clock”

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 17 October 2014

Belphegor - Blutsabbath

BELPHEGOR - Blutsabbath (LAST EPISODE - CD 1997)
Going back in time to the mid / late 90’s I remember that me and my friend at some point were searching for some of the most obscure, blasphemous but also the fastest death and black metal possible. We liked quite few bands, but the day, when we got “Blutsabbath” CD of Belphegor was like a revelation! Back in those days we did not think someone can be able to play so intense, but at the same time so harsh and aggressive music, so filled with profanation and sacrilege. For us, teenagers then, it was shocking, but it kicked ass! I mean, we were really impressed as fuck! Of corpse later we heard “Necrodaemon Terrorsathan”, which turned to be even better and more violent album, but “Blutsabbath” was still one of our favourites.
Is it still my favourite today? No. I like it, just as many other Belphegor albums, but I think that “Blutsabbath” doesn’t make such a strong impression today, as it did in 1997. It doesn’t mean that it grew old badly, but maybe the shocking value is gone somewhere hehe. For example nowadays the speed limit has been increased incredibly, there are also bands, which in time became more intense and violent, some are even more blasphemous (with satanic perversion exploit also)… Of course, it’s not a race, so who would really give a damn, but I wonder what would happen if “Blutsabbath” was released today, not in 1997? Who cares… Anyway, the album may not be so impressive today, but I still like it and I actually think that for sure Belphegor did some of the best death / black metal in the time of late 90’s / early 00’s. And certainly it’s one of those bands, which have their own, unique sound. All aspects – the production, the riffing, arrangements, even the vocals… all these things are quite unique and characteristic for Belphegor. You can recognize this band instantly, more so because their music has this weird tendency to be brutal and extreme, but also catchy and memorable, even melodic in many parts (like in fantastic opener “Abschwörung”). I have no idea how they made that possible, as they’re usually two aspects, which don’t like each other hehe. But I think it’s one of the reasons why Belphegor music became so successful. They simply had skills to compose songs, which were fast, extreme, blasphemous, but also memorable and easy to listen to.
“Blutsabbath” is filled with so called hits… with songs, which can sound great live and on CD. When you play this album real loud, then it is like a fuckin bulldozer, crushing and destroying all on its way, with throat cutting, sharp riffs, fast drums and sick, insane vocals of Helmuth, who really is possessed! This is what I like about Belphegor, with such killers like “Abschwörung”, “Purity Through Fire”, “No Resurrection”, “Blutsabbath”. But “Abschwörung” is definitely the very best piece here. And yes, I mentioned that I feel like this album was maybe making a bigger impression in late 90’s, but it still stands as strong and truly valuable effort. Belphegor was the best in their early albums, more uncompromising, more extreme, obscure and morbid. “Blutsabbath” is a perfect example for that. This album is better than “The Last Supper”, is really awesome, but later Belphegor recorded even more lethal stuff. Surely the best Austrian extreme metal band ever.
Standout tracks: “Abschwörung”, “Purity Through Fire”, “No Resurrection”, “Blutsabbath”

Final rate: 88/100

Watain - Casus Luciferi

WATAIN - Casus Luciferi (NOEVDIA - LP 2003)
„Casus Luciferi” is a second LP from the Swedish band Watain. And I believe this name is so well known to all fanatics of black metal, but not only, that they don’t need an introduction anymore. All in all, ever since the release of the debut or the second LP so much has happened around this band that nowadays they’re recognized like rock stars and as popular as an extreme metal band can only be. Watain still carries on their antichristian, satanic crusade, with new records… which for many are simply not quite as good as the early stuff. Well, I suppose it will always be an objective opinion of every individual, but personally I also think that the most interesting was the pre-big festivals period, when they were still more underground and known to only die hard maniacs. And „Casus Luciferi” may be actually their best effort from these early days. It may not be the perfect black metal record, but maybe it is a perfect Watain record, as it simply has everything what makes this band worthy.
“Devil’s Blood” is definitely the best song here. It actually belongs to my fave Watain songs at all, but it deserves that, for its truly killer riffing, which I could place somewhere between such bands as Ondskapt and Ofermod spiced with that unique style of black metal melody and arranging the songs known from Dissection. “Devil’s Blood” hits incredibly hard, it is fast, utterly aggressive, cold and evil when speaking of the atmosphere… but it is also kind of catchy, for its melody, excellent riff and vocals of E. A true masterpiece, if you ask me and killer opener. And with song like this you can really see how impressively Watain has matured and evolved from their wild and raging beastly debut LP. “Casus Luciferi” not only is way better recorded – and I really like the production of this album a lot! – but the music is simply more impressive. Take again “Black Salvation” and its savagery, untainted aggression and that mysterious atmosphere, which Watain creates in their music. And on top of all, there are simply some of the best lyrics I’ve ever read, with such lines as “Just as cancerous cocaine, deep in the veins of christ, the malignant curse divine floats within you all...” and “Ageless, eternal in grace. Behold the snake of temptation! Eyes gleaming with wisdom, tongues telling of truths inversed I have swallowed the hanged man's semen with necrophageous delight and let the Devil enter with all his might”. It’s all so powerful.
Generally “Casus Lucifer” is an album, which is built upon eight solid and even black metal anthems. Of corpse I have my favourites on the tracklist – and here I will definitely mention “Devil’s Blood”, “Black Salvation” and “From the Pulpits of Abomination” – but surely none of the songs could be seen as a filler or unworthy. I mentioned three songs, which I found as the most impressive and inspiring, but there are also such bestial anthems as “I am the Earth” and “Casus Luciferi”, which belong to the slower songs on the album, but have such an incredible, deep atmosphere and some more melodic, sometimes maybe even kind of melancholic parts, which I love as well. So, it’s impossible really not to get infected by “Casus Luciferi”. This is extremely good album, I love the ferocious, vicious sound of it, throat cutting riffs, as well as that evil, satanic, cold feeling, which this music is soaked with. “I am the earth, in the shadow of the Lord. A crucifix of flesh, yet sinfully adored”.
Standout tracks: “Devil’s Blood”, “Black Salvation”, “From the Pulpits of Abomination”
Final rate: 88/100

Monday, 13 October 2014

Into Darkness / Ghoulgotha - Shifted to the Red End of the Spectrum / Abnormal Paralysis

INTO DARKNESS / GHOULGOTHA - Shifted to the Red End of the Spectrum / Abnormal Paralysis (UNHOLY DOMAIN - 7"EP 2014)
Well, I keep on buying now each new release, which has Into Darkness logo on it. Yes, this Italian death combo have impressed me a lot with their previous recordings and so, when I noticed they’re doing a new split 7”vinyl I decided to get a copy immediately. Their new song “Shifted to the Red End of the Spectrum” is not so new hehe, as it was released on “Cosmic Chaos” cassette before (two other songs from it were released on separate 7”EP, so now it’s only “3C 273”, which remains unreleased on vinyl!). I am happy they’re releasing all these songs from that tape, as with 60 copies limitation I was not able to get a copy for myself and besides, I simply prefer vinyl hehe! And in case you already know the music of Into Darkness from “Transmigration of Cosmic Creatures into the Unknown” and self titled MLP, then you surely know what devastation you can expect from “Shifted to the Red End of the Spectrum”. Pure barbarity, morbid and obscure death metal… it is slightly faster than majority of other Into Darkness songs, but I love it, for its harsh production and simply killer riffs… and awesome ghoulish voice of Doomed Warrior! Giulia is great, I love her music. It is perfect death metal carnage. Rough, chaotic, aggressive, totally merciless onslaught. Hell yeah, the best Italian band after the split up of Undead Creep!
Good thing about such split EPs / MLPs or whatever is that when you buy it, because it contains a band you like a lot – like Into Darkness in this case – then sometimes you also have a chance to get to know a new band, which you did not hear about before and you’re about to be introduced to their music – like Ghoulgotha in case of this 7” split. I honestly did not hear of them before, so I would probably never bother to check them, if it wasn’t for this split… But damn, what a great band name they have hehe! For your information, Ghoulgotha is located in USA, this split is their third release, after a demo and a 7”EP released by Blood Harvest. And well, their take on doomy death metal is very good indeed. Maybe not quite as killer as Into Darkness, but I like them a lot as well. When compared to “Shifted to the Red End of the Spectrum”, “Abnormal Paralysis” is slower, way more doomy and heavy, with great massive riffs and brutal production. What a joy to listen to such obscure, creepy sounds! I am very happy that thanks to such bands as Hooded Menace this eerie, doom death metal has been resurrected and such bands as Ghoulgotha play it in such an awesome way. What a nice surprise then, so prepare yourself for sick, slow stuff! And the debut album is coming through the mighty Dark Descent. Once it’s out I am getting a copy for sure!

Final rate: 80/100

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Torturerama - It Begins at Birth

TORTURERAMA - It Begins at Birth (DOLOREM Records - CD 2014)
This is the second demo of Belgian Torturerama. Their first CD “Left as Remains” I liked a lot, but you know what? This second recording, “It Begins at Birth” is even better!! Hell yeah! I like it so much that my skull is literally exploding in ache, after the maniacal headbanging have been performed while listening to it. Yes, this is truly killer demo. Obviously these Belgian Bastards still walk a similar path as on their previous release, so again they offer a well known death metal, influenced by the old school Swedish bands. Again they have a strong inspiration from such Dismember, Carnage, Entombed and such newer bands like Entrails, Puteraeon, Interment, Mordbrand… No one should deny the similarities. No one should also request for originality and fuck knows what… because you won’t get them. This is traditional, straight to the bone, pure death metal. But it slays like mad, it crushes and sounds truly brilliant. Nothing else matters.
I consider “It Begins at Birth” to be better than the debut, for Torturerama have improved everything on it. First off, the sound! Yes, I liked that rough, vulgar production of the first demo, but I like the sound of “It Begins at Birth” more! It is cleaner, but still very aggressive, very powerful and it obviously has the great guitar tone of Swedish death metal, plus I just love how the bass guitar sounds here. Plus killer drums… and finally the vocals, which definitely are sounding better than on the previous demo. So, you see that it can’t go bad way. And it doesn’t, also because the songs are truly fantastic. “Sheppard of a Secret Realm”, which opens the demo, is so damn fantastic, has great, creepy melodies and killer atmosphere of horror! What a great riffing, very good, obscure vocals… There are four songs in total, and believe me, I like them all. They’re more melodic sometimes, but still aggression, morbidity and disgust are important for the sound of Torturerama. I don’t care if you say that already 20 years ago there were many bands playing this style and also nowadays there are too many similar acts, so such release is not so special anymore. I don’t care, because for me a well performed, well recorded Swedish death metal influenced recording will always be special. And fuck, “It Begins at Birth” is awesome! If you don’t believe me, then give a listen to “Necromantical Tendencie” – this song will slay you with no mercy and rip the guts out within seconds! Remember, 100 copies only available!
Standout tracks: “Sheppard of a Secret Realm”, “Necromantical Tendencie”
Final rate: 85/100

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Torturerama - Left as Remains

TORTURERAMA - Left as Remains (Self financed demo CD 2011)
It’s weird that Belgium never managed to form a quality death metal scene… All countries surrounding them, especially The Netherlands, have so many killer acts, both old and new, so many killer albums and demos… And Belgium? I simply cannot think if any truly superb, classic death metal band from this country, except Blasphereion / Morbid Death. OK, I may also mention Aborted, for they have a couple of better releases in the discography. But let’s be honest… this is very, very few names to mention. So, finally I am happy to discover a new band, which delivers some killer death tunes. And they’re called Torturerama! Ha, don’t mistake it with Terrorama hehe! The band was formed in 2008 and “Left as Remains” is their debut demo! And man, I must say that I really enjoyed this recording.
“Left as Remains” has everything what old styled death maniacs should love. Their music is deeply rooted in the Swedish style, more so, Mr. Skogsberg (anyone heard of him hehe?) is responsible for the mastering – so, the sound obviously is classically harsh and dark, with that buzzy chainsaw guitar sound we all love. And more so, Erik from one famous Swedish black metal band (guess which one!) is responsible for the artwork. Nice!
Now, speaking of the music… the sound reminds me especially one LP, and it is Dismember’s “Indecent and Obscene” / “Pieces”. And these are also the more rightful directions, which you should look at, if you want to know how is the Torturerama music on “Left as Remains” sounding like. Add obviously some necessary ingredients from old Entombed and here we go… Take “Last Piece” and you will know exactly what I mean. Crispy sound, crushing, sharp riffs, some slow, some mid paced and some guitar harmonies, which can be influenced only by one death metal scene in the world. Basically each song is based on them, like “Merciless Exsanguination”, which is so Dismember… Ha ha, but it’s good stuff. Sure, Torturerama doesn’t offer anything new, anything extraordinary, but rather common, old school Swedish death metal, but they do that in proper, good way, with some killer songs, killer riffs, great morbid atmosphere… simple, passionate playing. I don’t expect to hear anything more than that. Very good band indeed.
Standout tracks: “Merciless Exsanguination”, “Last Piece”, “Left as Remains”

Final rate: 70/100

Friday, 10 October 2014

Hades - …Again Shall Be

HADES - …Again Shall Be (FULL MOON Productions - CD 1994)
What an exciting time was in Norway back in the early / mid 90’s! I don’t necessarily mean the criminal aspects – although they surely gave a lot of attention to the whole scene and they’re to be blamed for the bad or good press and the eruption of new trend. But let’s put aside all that ideological matters, however important they were and also despite their influence on creating the special spirit to the whole scene. But, when writing it was exciting time, I mainly meant the musical aspects of Norwegian black metal. All in all, so many truly amazing and great albums have been recorded at that time! And many I can call cult, because they deserve it, also because almost every band had something unique to offer and had original sound and style each. Hades from Bergen was one of such special nocturnal hordes for sure. They may have came quite late, as the band was formed in 1992 – before Jorn played in Old Funeral and had an episode in Immortal, and I think Hades was formed after Old Funeral split up. Anyway, the band quickly proved to be one of the most special Norwegian bands, first with their classic demo “Alone Walkyng”, followed by utterly classic and cult debut album “…Again Shall Be”, which for me is of the very best Norwegian black metal albums of all time. It has everything; great sound, great playing and riffs, killer cold and dark atmosphere… and history behind it.
I love the opening, instrumental track, which is so damn epic and monumental, so atmospheric at the same time… It is obviously strongly influenced by the great and only Bathory, but at the same time it is unique, as Hades is a unique band. When I listen to “Pagan Triumph” I also realize how awesome is the production of the whole album… killer, raw guitar tone, drums, which sound like thunder... I really can’t think of ANY other Norwegian or whatever band, which would have a sound like “…Again Shall Be”. And that says a lot about how excellent and exceptional this LP is. But going further, we have amazing anthem called “Hecate (Queen of Hades)”, which is just… again, damn monumental and majestic, but also dark and angry. This time I also notice fantastic vocals of Janto, whose shrieking and harsh voice fits this music perfectly (he also uses clean vocals in some parts, which also fit the style of Hades music brilliantly) and also some great guitar harmonies, which make the whole album sound even more interesting.
And you know, I’ve been knowing this album since probably 1996, when I got it on cassette and damn, I still can’t get enough of it, I still think that every song on it is just perfect. It never gets boring, it excites me every time I listen to it! Such “The Ecstasy of an Astral Journey” for example – what a fantastic song, there are some riffs in it, which give me so much power and goose skin, plus those keyboards and acoustic guitars and screams of Janto... it is absolutely amazing and essential Norsk epic black metal. Damn, people praise Immortal, when they play some Bathory like stuff, but for me Immortal is not even half as good as Hades on their early albums. Another truly outstanding and my favourite song is the title track… again the riffs are memorable, heavy and the atmosphere is just perfect. Then there’s “Unholy Congregation”, one of the most aggressive songs here, but again so memorable, with quite catchy, but raw and obscure riffs. In my opinion Hades managed to find a secret way to compose monumental, but aggressive, harsh but memorable songs – something what is quite rare or almost feels impossible to do. More so, they had many fantastic ideas, incorporated some brilliant acoustic and drum patterns or whatever motifs into their songs, which only make them sound more incredible than they already did. And another awesome example for that is “Glorious Again the Northland Shall Become”, filled with acoustics and other stuff...
There’s simply not a bad song here, not a single boring moment. I know that things like a perfect record do not exist, but damn… “…Again Shall Be” is just as close to it as not many other LPs. And truly along with “De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas”, “In the Nightside Eclipse”, “Vikingligr Veldi”, “Under the Funeral Moon”, “Bergtatt”, “Borknagar”, “The Shadowthrone” and few others, this is a classic LP, which stands pride as a legendary now. Absolute must to have for sure.
Standout tracks: “The Ecstasy of an Astral Journey”, “…Again Shall Be”, “Unholy Congregation”, “Glorious Again the Northland Shall Become”

Final rate: 100/100

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Celestial Bloodshed - Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed

CELESTIAL BLOODSHED - Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed (DEBEMUR MORTI - CD 2008)
The common opinion says that the best black metal from Norway is the one, which was released in the early 90’s. Well, I agree in most part, but at the same time I must admit that 00’s have brought us also several truly killer and influential black metal releases. Bands like Taake, Urgehal, Throne of Katarsis, 1349, Dødsengel, Koldbrann managed to ablaze the sky in great way as well and I cannot imagine black metal maniacs not paying attention to them. There’s one more name, which I can honestly add to this list and it’s band called Celestial Bloodshed. It is one of the newer bands, as their debut LP “Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed” has been unleashed upon mankind in 2008, so quite late (since then the band also released an album titled “Omega”, before splitting up in 2009, after the leader of the band Steingrim Torson was shot dead), but I am surely impressed by this album.
And it doesn’t matter that “Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed” is walking the well known paths of Norwegian black metal. Originality is not something I would care about. I don’t care also if bands like Gorgoroth, Urgehal, Koldbrann and so on, did similar job on their records and maybe some of them are better than Celestial Bloodshed, nor if they’re more popular and… cult hehe! Who cares. “Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed” offers very well performed and arranged classic black metal and I can’t find anything wrong on this album. I love the production, because it is simply perfect for this kind of black metal, for the harsh and powerful, but no way primitive sound. Then I also like the songs a lot, even if they don’t sound like some shit extravaganza few other Norwegian bands offer and in many aspects the music of Celestial Bloodshed can be called typical and common. But it is still damn good and solid. “Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed” is filled with dark, malignant, cold atmosphere, which is necessary in this sort of music. More so, quite often the music has this misanthropic, sorrowful mood, what I also like. And at the same time there’s a lot of anger, ferocity, viciousness and aggression... Pure carnage and annihilation right in the traditions of Gorgoroth, Darkthrone or Mayhem, played in the simple, almost sort of hypnotizing and maybe slightly monotonous way (which not necessarily must be a negative aspect, if it mean the mesmerizing way), with the same fast pace and one of two fast riffs, hardly with any variation. You can hear it in such anthems like “Truth is Truth, Beyond the God”. Luckily Celestial Bloodshed has also such tracks like “Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed”, which begins with slow, melancholic riff and then transforms into a real black metal beast. And finally one of my favourites, if not the favourite, is “All Praise to Thee” – what a brilliant track! It is almost doomy, filled with slow riff, wailing, harsh vocals in the vein of Attila and sorrowful atmosphere… And the whole album ends with “Demon of Old” and it’s just a fuckin killer, black metal onslaught and devastation.
So, “Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed” will not deliver anything new and extraordinary. It is traditional Scandinavian black metal, but if you’re worshipping Urgehal, Armagedda, Pest, Koldbrann and the old cults, then Celestial Bloodshed is for you. Very recommended to the maniacs.
Standout tracks: “Cursed, Scarred and Forever Possessed”, “All Praise to Thee”

Final rate: 75/100

Bloody Sign - Primitive Horde

BLOODY SIGN - Primitive Horde (Self financed demo CDR 2002)
Damn, I almost forgot I have this demo in my collection. It’s been so many years since I received it from the band (I think I got it from then bassist of Bloody Sign, Nathaniel, who also did killer Mutilating Process zine!). And so much have happened since then. Bloody Sign released three full length albums, some splits and already split up in 2010 (but Uibo brothers have formed Chaos Echœs!)… At the time, when I got this demo, Bloody Sign was completely unknown, but I discovered that “Primitive Horde” was already their fourth demo recording. But later then became quite respected and recognized name on the map of underground, obscure death metal. Ha! It is so good then that I found this demo and can listen to “Primitive Horde” again, especially as the last time I listened to it was probably just when I received it hehe.
Musically / stylistically it differs obviously from the future Bloody Sign recordings, especially from their late albums. “Primitive Horde” is nothing more or less, but a filthy, raw, maybe primitive (hence they used this word in the title hehe), bestial death metal, with brutal, cavernous production and deep, guttural vocals. It’s nothing innovative – although already on this demo the band made a song, which has this weird feeling; something they did also in the future. I’m talking about “Luuk”, which surely is a track that stands above the rest of the material here, since that rest is really nothing outstanding or truly memorable, just demo quality raw death metal, which still needed a lot of improvement, in basically every aspect (production, compositions, performance, etc). And improve they did on the future materials, such as awesome “Vana Vigala Loits” and “Chaos Echoes”. “Primitive Horde” is just a nice item in the collection, but next time I will listen to it will be in ten years again hehe!
Best song: “Death of a Voyager”

Final rate: 60/100

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Ares Kingdom - Return to Dust

ARES KINGDOM - Return to Dust (Nuclear War Now! Productions - LP 2006)
Now I am going to remind you one hell of a lot underrated US band – Ares Kingdom! Someone would assume they have all what’s necessary to be more popular, being a successor to the cult of Order From Chaos. But Order From Chaos was never really a mainstream band, but an entity known only to the diehard maniacs of death metal cult, so maybe this why their name didn’t bring more attention to Ares Kingdom. Besides, it took ten years before Chuck Keller and Mike Muller released this album, so people probably forgot about them… but for me it is a lame explanation and I just think Ares Kingdom deserves more attention than they already received. This review won’t change much, but maybe it will introduce this band to some people out there? Who knows… I already reviewed “Incendiary” album, which is my personal favourite in Ares Kingdom discography, now it’s time to describe the debut LP!
When I listen to “Return to Dust” I feel that this LP must have been just exceptional at the time of its release. Why? It’s like swimming against the tide, I think – everybody around tried to play as brutal, as technical and as fast as possible, to the point of nonsense and meanwhile Ares Kingdom came up with an album, which was old school to the bone, where the riffs actually have some meaning and are not just to provide unreadable background for blasting drums and piggy vocals. “Return to Dust” is completely different in that manner; it contains classic metal riffs (based very much on the traditional heavy, speed and death metal… archaic maybe it is, but who cares!), with clearly selected verse and chorus parts, but also with some longer instrumental passages influenced by the classic metal masterpieces… and there’s also this wonderfully organic, warm production – it just sounds like a band playing live, which is not so normal anymore! Yeah, in songs like “A Dream of Armageddon” the heavy metal influence is so clear that only deaf won’t catch them. Obviously it also means that you should not seek for a sheer brutality, death metal violence and obscurity from Ares Kingdom, as “Return to Dust” is just not like that. Obviously it is still damn aggressive album, listen to such “Failsafe”, which probably is the most uncompromising track on the album and tell me if it didn’t force you to bang the head hehehe! It’s just different kind of extreme. But on the other hand such song as “A Dream of Armageddon” is just something completely different; it is kind of epic, you know? It’s almost nine minutes long, slow to mid paced, traditional heavy / death – however that sounds to you hehe – metal song, but listen to some of these riffs, patters, guitar leads…
“Ironclad” is also such song, so it is more lengthy and epic, but I must also mention “Firestorm Redemption” for its aggressive, thrashing riffing. I love that song and it probably is my favourite piece from the whole LP. I don’t maybe understand what was the purpose to include two instrumental pieces one after another close to the end of the album, but that is not something what would really bother me (especially as the riffing in “None Escape” is truly killer!!!!!). And hmm… I sometimes have a small resemblance to Destroyer 666, so if you like these Aussie maniacs, then you know what to expect here, but maybe in more traditional form! But maybe even more I have some resemblances to Pentacle from such LP as “Rides of the Moonstorm” – all in all this is some excellent metal!
I often notice that people tend to compare Ares Kingdom to Order From Chaos, but I won’t do that. I would rather treat them as two separate entities – just like I consider Angel Corpse as separate band from Order From Chaos. Sure, Chuck Keller probably has something like his original, trademark way of composing and guitar playing… but I am not such an expert to break the music into such small details, make mathematic formulas, etc. So, let’s skip all this shit. It must be said though that “Return to Dust” has been released ten years after Ares Kingdom was formed and since Order From Chaos split up, so it is obvious that many things have changes and there’re many dissimilarities between both acts. I see Ares Kingdom as a band, which is more traditional, almost archaic, speaking of their style, which combines death, thrash and heavy metal. And as such “Return to Dust” is just great album, but not my favourite in their discography, as the second LP “Incendiary” is even better. So, I just must recommend you Ares Kingdom… to all of you, die hard metal maniacs; if you still don’t know this band then fix this mistake quickly.
Standout tracks: “Firestorm Redemption”, “A Dream of Armageddon”, “Failsafe”

Final rate: 79/100