Monday, 30 January 2017

Mercyless - Coloured Funeral

MERCYLESS - Coloured Funeral (CENTURY MEDIA - CD 1993)
Objectively speaking I have to admit that even though French death metal scene never belonged to my favourites, they did have some exceptional and memorable bands. Some of you may still remember Aggressor, Supuration, Loudblast, Crusher… Personally my two beloved bands were Massacra and Mercyless. Oh man, these acts really did record some fantastic albums and ever since the early 90’s they belonged to my favourite European death metal bands. Mercyless is one of those bands, whose music turned into something horrible on third and fourth albums, I truly think they recorded an utter rubbish. But their killer debut “Abject Offerings” and even better follower “Coloured Funeral” are classic death metal records. If you don’t know them, then you just must catch up and grab them, believe me they’re fantastic.
“Coloured Funeral” is close to perfection. This quite forgotten and underrated album brings some of the best technical and slightly progressive, but still harsh sounding death metal songs of all time. I love everything about this full length, starting with killer and exceptional songwriting, filled with AMAZING riffage, many great melodies and just perfectly, technically played performance of every Mercyless member. And finishing with top notch production, which is on that harsh death metal edge, but is yet clean and powerful, so when this album is played loud then everything really turns into ruin and shit.
The album may require few spins, before you’ll fully be able to grasp it. But that’s only due to the enormous number of details, riffs and not so easy or typical song structures. Luckily a lot of the fragments are quite catchy and memorable, what helps and makes the whole experience not only easier, but also more pleasant. I like diversity of this music and how Mercyless combines death metal aggression and viciousness with progressive style of playing. The effect is truly amazing. And even if we can compare this band and “Coloured Funeral” to bands like Pestilence, Death, Burial (Holland), Morgoth or Gorguts, then they still have enough creativity and identity to have their own, unique style and sound. And this is why I consider Mercyless to be such a unique and exceptional act.
As always I mention some standout tracks below, but to be honest, I feel like I could name every song from “Coloured Funeral”, because this is complete and from start to finish a very good album, which has no fillers at all. And as I said, if you dig a bit progressive, but vicious and aggressive old school death metal, then do not waste time and buy first two Mercyless albums. They’re classics! Oh, Mercyless reformed and after reunion they recorded another two pure death metal albums, which I also loved. At the moment this is my favourite death metal from France.
Standout tracks: “Forgotten Fragments”, “Travel Through a Strange Emotion”, “Serenades... (into Your Limbs)”, “Naked Forms”

Final rate: 90/100

Morgion - God of Death & Disease

MORGION - God of Death & Disease (DARK DESCENT - CD 2012)
Most of the doom / death metal fans should know Morgion, because this band released three very good albums, which all got quite good response from the press and listeners. But Morgion split up several years ago and the last album they did (“Cloaked by Ages, Crowned in Earth”) was released in 2004, so nowadays they may be less and less remembered and surely many younger fans will have no idea who Morgion were. Why not start introducing yourself to them then with this very nice compilation CD, which Dark Descent Records released few years back? It’s titled “God of Death & Disease” and generally it contains all the material, which Morgion recorded before the release of debut album “Among Majestic Ruin” in 1997. So we have here “Rabid Decay” (1991, demo), rehearsal recordings from 1992 and “Travesty” EP from 1993. I didn’t know any of these materials in their original versions, so such CDs are a great opportunity to listen to some new, unknown shit.
I have to admit that “Rabid Decay” demo was not able to impress me and with all honesty, I can only say that it’s pretty mediocre and almost forgettable effort. Not only it suffers from rather weak production (especially in song “Encased in Glass”, where it all sounds like dubbed from old, used cassette), but the songwriting is also far from spectacular. The song I just mentioned, “Encased in Glass”, is particularly boring and dull. “Rabid Decay” generally sounds more like typical death metal demo, with just few doomy fragments here and there, like in “Intro / Drowning in Sorrow”, which is a fine opening instrumental track. Such “In the Process” and “Gothic Decorum” also sounds like decent primeval death metal demo songs, I have to say that I like some of these riffs, arrangements and Jeremy R. Peto vocals. This demo isn’t bad, but it’s just far from being sensational or whatever. Mind that stylistically it differs hugely from the albums, which Morgion did few years later.
Next up “God of Death & Disease” features an unreleased (I think so) material, which was recorded during rehearsal in 1992. Well, I have to say that if it really is a rehearsal recording, then it sounds unbelievably good. The sound is even better than on “Rabid Decay” demo, it’s very brutal and heavy, so I like it a lot! Anyway, these four songs follow the style from the demo, but definitely these songs are better. The band still sounds more like a typical rough death metal, with doomy parts present rather spontaneously, so the music is quite brutal and sometimes even fast. Songs like “Chasm” or “What Dwells upon Man” are fantastic and I dare to say that it’s one of my favourite Morgion recordings. The first one is more like straight up death metal, while the latter contains many doomy parts, what makes it sound unbelievably heavy and gloomy. Oh boy, I really like it a lot. It’s very well executed, I can yet again find here many killer riffs and arrangements and generally even if it seems like this material wasn’t officially released back in the 90’s, I can consider it as one of the better US death metal demos from 1992.
Finally a rare “Travesty” 7”EP completes “God of Death & Disease” in excellent way. Only two, but very good songs are here, which yet again show a step forward for the band. It’s awesome death / doom metal, very brutal, harsh, but with some great melodic sections like in “Wither the Storm”, what sometimes give Morgion a style, which slightly resembles me the Swedish death metal and bands like Eternal Darkness. “Wither the Storm” is better of these two songs but all in all “Travesty” sounds like a killer EP and it’s a shame that I never had a chance to grab the original version of it. Generally though I have to say that Morgion was great band, their early recordings may sound different to the full length albums, but this compilation should be a nice item for collection and if you dig all those old death metal demos then you should give it a listen.
Final rate: 75/100

Thursday, 26 January 2017

God Dethroned - The Christhunt

GOD DETHRONED - The Christhunt (COLD BLOOD Industries - LP 1992)
Some time ago a friend of mine started a discussion on Facebook about the best Dutch death metal albums of all time. It was something quite interesting to read, because I’ve never hidden a fact that Dutch death metal scene belongs to my favourites and I truly worship many bands from there. A lot of obvious titles were mentioned in that discussion, like Pestilence, Gorefest, Sinister, Asphyx or Altar albums... but I was surprised that I was first to name God Dethroned's "The Christhunt" LP. For me personally it's top five of best death metal records from Holland and I truly love this album. I like some later God Dethroned albums also, like "Ravenous" or "The Grand Grimoire", but none of them sounds so vicious and brutal as the debut. And this is why I love "The Christhunt" so much – it is the sheer aggression, viciousness and evil, dark atmosphere of this album what suits me well. The future records may be better recorded, be better technically, but also more melodic and have more memorable songs, but they miss that relentless and obscure harsh aspect of old school death metal, which I worship and which "The Christhunt" has in its every fuckin fragment.
So, I do return do this record often, even though I only have it on picture LP - and I am yet again surprised that no one had yet decided to put it on vinyl in more proper way. I do hope it will change one day... until then it's "The Christhunt" on picture LP, which is OK, as the sound is not so bad and besides, this album simply fuckin kills.
I don’t necessarily like to make comparisons, but if I was going to compare "The Christhunt" to other bands then it would be a bit of early Sinister, Altar, Deicide, Vital Remains… all these maniacally evil, malicious and harsh sounding type of bands, which recorded some splendid satanic death metal albums in the early 90’s. A lot of "The Christhunt" sounds fast, aggressive and intense. They make many transitions and changes of the pace in every song, so it all sounds nicely diverse, even if sometimes it can be a bit predictable or even naïve, as the band tend to repeat some schemes quite often, especially in the fast parts. But despite that, I like it, because God Dethroned had some killer riffs here, I love the blasphemous aura of this music and Henri Sattler’s vocals (with a lot of reverb on them) sound morbid and evil as hell! Occasionally God Dethroned slows down and actually they do have also a bit of Asphyx gloominess in these slow parts, like in “Infernal Sights of a Bloody Dawn (Morbid Rites)” for example, which definitely belongs to my favourite tracks on "The Christhunt". Check that doomy riff and mournful guitar lead – they could easily been taken from “The Rack”.
Several truly killer songs go through the album. “Infernal Sights of a Bloody Dawn (Morbid Rites)”, “Christ Carnage”, insanely malignant “Necromagnon” or “Unholdin of Hewe”. I’m not saying that "The Christhunt" is the most brilliant death metal album of all time, but it sounds solid, it had everything that you should love about satanic death metal of the old days. Mind though that if you’re fan of later God Dethroned, especially albums like “The Lair of the White Worm” or “The Toxic Touch”, then this debut may sound way too rough and primitive for you and it may not necessarily be your cup of piss. But try it, who knows, maybe you’ll like it anyway.
Standout tracks: “Infernal Sights of a Bloody Dawn (Morbid Rites)”, “Christ Carnage”, “Necromagnon”, “Unholdin of Hewe”.

Final rate: 85/100

Goreaphobia - Vile Beast of Abomination

GOREAPHOBIA - Vile Beast of Abomination (NECROHARMONIC - CD 2007)
"Vile Beast of Abomination" is really fine compilation of songs of one of these legendary, but relatively underrated US death metal bands from the old era. Goreaphobia, formed in 1988, was relatively short lived act, as they split up in 1994 and through these few years they only released a demo and 7"EP - both of which you can find on this CD. But even with such small discography, they managed to become a recognizable and cult band. Goreaphobia history obviously didn't end in 1994 and later the band was reformed twice - first in 1999 and then again in 2004, this time for longer (they even recorded two albums, before splitting up yet again... and for good, as it looks like).
"Vile Beast of Abomination" starts with some newer songs of Goreaphobia, which I didn't know before, as they're 2004 unreleased material, with four truly fuckin crushing songs of vicious and obscure death metal. Oh man, this shit sounds incredibly good, with songs like "Wraith Reaper" or "Creator Chaos" it's just beastly stuff. Great riffage, with lots of fast, but also great slower parts and great approach towards classic death metal. "Wraith Reaper" really stands out here, with its excellent playing. If there's anything to moan, then maybe I don't like those screamed vocals so much and would prefer to hear more typical growl... but it's a minor complain and generally I feel like Goreaphobia really came up with great material here. A bit different to their older recordings, but damn good for sure.
Later we can listen to old songs from classic releases "Omen of Masochism" (1991 EP) and "Morbidious Pathology" (1990 demo). The band sounded brutal, very dark and harsh and definitely they did have a lot in common with other representatives of old school brutal death metal like Incantation, Morpheus Descends, Rottrevore, Brutality, Decrepit, Immolation and so on. I love this old US death metal scene, with many killer bands - some of which became more popular and did many albums and some, which only did some demos and never become recognized (like Body Bag, Timeghoul, Ossuary, Arioch, Contagion and so on). Goreaphobia sounded better and more savage than many of them and these two old recordings are a fine proof for it. The production on the demo may not be the best, but even that has its killer charm and fits perfectly to this rotten, brutal death metal style. But I prefer the EP - for me it's the best thing, which Goreaphobia has ever recorded.
Musically "Vile Beast of Abomination" is a killer compilation, but also the whole presentation of this CD, released by Necroharmonic Productions, is truly spotless. Take a look on this fat booklet, filled with millions of archive photographs, but also one of the most indepth and detailed liner notes I've ever seen. This is what I call a complete and perfect work!
Standout tracks: "Omen of Masochism", "Wraith Reaper"

final rate: 90/100

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Sear Bliss - Grand Destiny

SEAR BLISS - Grand Destiny (RED STREAM - CD 2002)
Sear Bliss is surely one of my favourite black metal bands when speaking of countries like Poland, Hungary of Czech Republic. They did so many fantastic albums and more so, they managed to create their own style, to become extraordinary and exceptional band. “Grand Destiny” is their third full length album. And I have to say that I was a bit worried before I heard it for the first time back in 2002. And that’s because their previous two albums were a rollercoaster for me. I absolutely loved “Phantoms”, with great combination of raw black metal and atmospheric, monumental parts, strongly enhanced by the brass section. Every song on this album turned out to be superb. But later “The Haunting” came and that album on the other hand disappointed me. I felt like the music became a bit too soft, I didn’t like how the keyboards sounded there and even the trumpets did not help. Generally I think that the songs on Sear Bliss second full length were just not that good and that’s because this album is fairly mediocre and forgettable. So, this is why I was a bit worried before “Grand Destiny” arrived. But damn, this album turned out to be just awesome and actually it belongs to Sear Bliss’ best releases. So, it’s a great return to form.
Basically Sear Bliss kept all the most valuable ingredients for their music, which I liked so much on the debut album. And luckily they avoided sounding a bit too soft like they did on “The Haunting”. So, it’s a perfectly balanced atmospheric black metal, with some exceptional monumental parts, with a lot of additional brass section and great harsh, but clean and powerful sound. Damn, the way this albums starts, with “The World Beyond”, is something you would not expect, because this is fast, very raw sounding, cold black metal that you would not necessarily expect to hear from Sear Bliss, especially after “The Haunting” album. But damn, what a stunning opener, what a vicious and aggressive opening song! It can only promise that “Grand Destiny” will be a great improvement. And it is. Next song is “Death in Torment” and again I am impressed! These first riffs in it, with great addition of trumpet and keyboard sound just fantastic and I love how the atmosphere is being created in the whole song, finished with a nice acoustic theme. And then what? Another fast motherfucker with  some exceptional parts – this is “Ars Idiolatriae”. I can easily say that these three songs are enough to give an opinion that “Grand Destiny” is not only an album that exceeds everything Sear Bliss did on the previous full length, but even their fantastic debut can have sometimes difficulties to match that quality.
More so, it seems like “Grand Destiny” belongs to the harshest sounding Sear Bliss albums. The production on it is quite clear, but with that raw, black metal touch what makes it sound so damn good, a bit like Gehenna did on “Malice” maybe. As always Sear Bliss astonishes, for having a great ability to compose interesting and incredibly well arranged songs. Every part of “Grand Destiny”, from start to finish, is excellent and so the whole album has no downs, no fillers, no weak points. It is very damn close to perfection and for sure it is one of the best black metal albums from the early 00’s.
Standout tracks: “The World Beyond”, “Ars Idiolatriae”, “Death in Torment”, “God Man’

Final rate: 90/100

Hooded Menace - Gloom Immemorial

HOODED MENACE - Gloom Immemorial (DOOMENTIA - CD 2014)
What I love about this compilation is that it’s not one of these boring best off type of stuff, but they gathered all songs that were published on rare vinyl releases that Hooded Menace putted out during last ten years. And it’s a lot of it, believe me haha! So, in case you had no chance to buy any of these 7”EPs or splits or whatever, or maybe you’re not a vinyl freak and have no turntable, this compilation is a chance for you to hear some more splendid stuff from these masters of horror. I personally have maybe just couple of these releases, so for me “Gloom Immemorial” is also a necessary and so looked after compilation. Of course I would love to have the original vinyl singles and splits, but damn, I know how hard to find them and expensive they are these days. So, this CD is OK for me!
All songs are presented in chronological order, so… The feast begins with two songs, which also ended up on the debut album of Hooded Menace “Fulfill the Curse”. But the EP “The Eyeless Horde” from 2007 had them recorded in different versions, year before the album was recorded. They don’t differ much from the album version, but damn, I would love to have this EP so fuckin much haha! These are also two among my favourite tracks on this compilation. I love how Hooded Menace combines heavy, doomy riffage with that gloomy, horror atmosphere and some melody. And of course their doom is strongly infected with old school death metal, so this is also why the music of Hooded Menace speaks to me so well.
Later there’s some stuff, which I personally wasn’t familiar with, as I never had a chance to hear original EPs, such as split with Anima Morte, splits with Coffins (another one, which I REALLY need to grab!), Asphyx and Ilsa. It was extremely fantastic to discover such songs as “A Decay of Mind and Flesh” (which is actually Anima Morte cover), as I love the melodies in this track and it works so surprisingly well to hear that it’s an instrumental song!!! I can only give it the best feedback possible, because I love it for its memorable harmonies and great atmosphere (need to check Anima Morte then also haha!). Or “The Haunted Ossuary” from the split with Coffins, which is so, so damn heavy and nasty song, truly monstrous stuff!
I do own such releases as “Labyrinth of Carrion Breeze” and “A View from the Rope”, so I knew these songs, but it was also a pleasure to hear them again, on CD. All in all, I have to say that “Gloom Immemorial” is a fantastic compilation of rare stuff from one of the best doom / death metal bands ever. And so what that I missed most of these releases in original formats. Sure, I would love to have them all, as playing such music in vinyl format is simply pure magic and it always give you a special feeling. But if cannot have what you want, I am happy with what substitute. And believe me, “Gloom Immemorial” is a standout / not boring compilation that all fans of doom / death should have. I’m also happy that the band and the label took it all seriously and came up with fantastic booklet, which shows you each original release in details – with lyrics, original artwork and band photograph from that era. It cannot be done better, so for me this is just near perfection type of release with 75 minutes of horror soundtrack.
Standout tracks: “Fulfill the Curse”, “The Eyeless Horde”, “The Haunted Ossuary”, “A Decay of Mind and Flesh”

Final rate: 90/100

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Kingdom - Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment

KINGDOM - Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2016)
It’s been a while since the release of “Morbid Priest of Supreme Blasphemy” album and “Temple of Death” cassette EP. But Kingdom is back, once again in very good form and their newest album “Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment” is truly a savage and vicious recording, which should appeal to all death and black metal maniacs. I do mean it; because this album is a fantastic combination of both styles, played in raw, morbid way of old school. Obviously it’s mainly based in the death metal sound, this is the fundament of Kingdom music, but the black metal influence can be spotted here also, alike to bands like Embrace of Thorns, Bestial Raids, Teitanblood and sometimes even going back in time to Darkthrone’s “A Blaze In the Northern Sky”.
Anyway, “Sepulchral Psalms from the Abyss of Torment” sounds fantastic. When I started to listen to this album, I immediately knew that it’s gonna rip the fuckin guts out and that it’s a fine crushing stuff. The production is so bloody good here, as it’s harsh and heavy, but at the same time it’s bloody powerful, so every sound is like a massive punch in the face and the music has this great obscure feeling, which correspondents fantastically with the overwhelming heaviness and brutality of Kingdom music. The sound is also quite organic, it all sounds just properly and far from artificial, plastic productions of many nowadays bands, even those, which also call their music “old school”.
The music is as extreme as old school metal can be, and it delivers some fantastic riffs and arrangements, with every song having something special to offer. They may sound a bit like some old Morbid Angel, Acheron and Incantation, like in fantastic “Sepulcral Psalms”, “Abyss of Torment” or “Whispering the Incantation of Eternal Fire”, when the tempo is slowed down. But when the band speeds up, then a real hell breaks loose and damn, it’s more like Throneum meets Angel Corpse, Vital Remains and BM bands I mentioned earlier. Such beasts as “Monolith of Death” will strike fast and kill with no mercy! I love this intensity, heaviness, morbid feeling and gloominess of Kingdom music, I truly think they have some great riffs and the vocals of LWN are also worth mentioning. Among all the songs, “Kaplica ducha zgniłego” definitely stands out, as with the Polish lyrics this song sounds even more blasphemous and obscure than anything else here. And the riffing in this song, as well as the vocal parts are insanely good.
Standout tracks: “Abyss of Torment”, “Kaplica ducha zgniłego”, “Sepulcral Psalms”, “Whispering the Incantation of Eternal Fire”

Final rate: 80/100

Death - Leprosy

DEATH - Leprosy (COMBAT Records - LP 1988)
Let’s visit the past again. Here’s a classic Death album “Leprosy”. Oh, I think it’s the first death metal album, which I’ve ever heard and it was 25-26 years ago or something like that. You can imagine how many times have I listened it since then. Hundreds? I know every riffs, every vocals line – this album has no secrets before me anymore. This is a reason why I don’t play it so often these days and I prefer to put something new instead (like Gruesome or Skeletal Remains), because I don’t feel this excitement when I hear “Leprosy” anymore. This album will surely remain a total classic for me and I will always consider it as one of the best death metal records of all time. But not as Death’s finest album, because I like “Spiritual Healing” more. This one is their second best IMO.
Anyway, it’s been one year since the band has brutally mutilated every metalhead with “Scream Bloody Gore” and “Leprosy” was released in 1988. There’s been quite significant line up change – only Chuck Schuldiner remained on the altar of gore. He was joined by his old Mantas pal Rick Rozz on guitar, as well some other Massacre members – Bill Andrews on drums and Terry Butler on bass. But Butler joined the band shortly after the recording session of “Leprosy”, so he’s here just on the photos (Chuck recorded all bass lines). Interestingly, the line up here is almost the same, as on the three years later recorded “From Beyond”, but that’s another story.
“Leprosy” definitely shows a great progression and improvement with songwriting and technical aspects. You can hear that the songs are better composed, with lots of brilliant arrangements, more detailed guitar work, drums parts and everything else. Primitive gory death metal was moved along to Autopsy with Reifert, while Death took a huge step forward. Both Schuldiner and Rozz showed some great guitar work here, came up great heavy riffs, fantastic leads or quite a lot of melody for such an aggressive death metal album. They’ve been both equally responsible for composing “Leprosy”, most of the songs were written by two of them and only two tracks (two BEST songs on the album – “Leprosy” and “Pull the Plug”) were composed solely by Chuck and one song (“Primitive Ways”, which is also my least fave track here) was written only by Rick Rozz. More mature, much more developed and though through – this is what you’ll think, if you compare “Leprosy” to “Scream Bloody Gore”. Every song bursts with great brutal energy, but surprisingly a lot of these riffs are quite catchy and memorable, which is something that will always differ Death from other, more brutal US death metal acts. Obviously it’s not the ultra-progressive and innovatory Death songs yet, so do not expect “Human” from it. This album is closer to such “Pleasure to Kill” for instance than to “Symbolic” and “Human”. It’s aggressive, often relatively fast and still rather harsh sounding, but the production is very strong aspect of this album.
I have two really favourite songs here – first one is the title track, which may even be my favourite Death song ever. Oh, I love the riffs in it, that heaviness, harshness, melodies and the vicious atmosphere of “Leprosy”. This song has also quite memorable parts, it basically is one of those songs, where every riff is nailing you to the ground and crushing immediately. And the second fave piece is “Pull the Plug”, of course! Wow, this is such a killer, I’m sure that everyone knows this track, as it’s probably one of Death’s most popular anthems. This song is relatively easy, when speaking of its structure, arrangements and everything. But it’s so bloody effective, slower parts in it are absolutely fantastic, guitar leads are perfect and yet again the music is very memorable, you will remember its chorus or some of these killer riffs forever.
But there are more exceptional songs, like “Left to Die”, “Choke on It” and “Open Casket”, so the whole 40 minutes always go fast. It’s not a perfect record, it’s not the best death metal album (although an important one in my personal ranking and my death metal history). It has its faults, especially the drums, as I don’t really like the monotonous drumming of Andrews, who especially in the faster parts seem to be playing the same patterns over and over again. But his playing seems to fit that old school death metal character of “Leprosy”, so it is not a major complain. More so, the snare drum sound is almost annoying sometimes, but I can live with that. All in all, it’s been almost 30 years since “Leprosy” was recorded and this album didn’t get old at all, I still listen to it with smile on my face and with a great pleasure. And I am sure that in another 20 years it will make the same impression, because this is a timeless album.
Standout tracks: “Leprosy”, “Pull the Plug”, “Open Casket”, “Left to Die”

Final rate: 90/100

Friday, 13 January 2017

Bloodbath - Nightmare Made Flesh

BLOODBATH - Nightmare Made Flesh (CENTURY MEDIA - CD 2004)
Let me write now few words on one of the best death metal albums of the recent years. You may feel a bit skeptical towards bands / side projects like Bloodbath and don’t take them so seriously. It’s your choice, but personally I don’t care about calling them “all star band” or whatever, I also don’t care if it’s their main band or not. The music is what counts and surely Bloodbath released some seriously killer albums. “Nightmare Made Flesh” is my favourite CD from them and honestly, for me this stuff is close to perfection. There’s a bunch of great songs attacking mercilessly one after another, with killer riffage, super tight performance, neat production and really vicious sounding vocals of Peter Tägtgren, who joined Bloodbath for this album, replacing Mikael Akerfeldt. There’s absolutely nothing what I would not like about “Nightmare Made Flesh”, yes!
Bloodbath did not reinvent the wheel with “Nightmare Made Flesh”. They did not come up with anything super sophisticated. What I like about it though is how killer the songwriting here is, as the band came up with plenty of super fuckin awesome riffs that are often catchy, but aggressive, nasty and crushing as hell. And they always force you to bang the head like crazy, as the sound of this album is truly powerful and vicious. Bloodbath composed great songs, filled with fantastic arrangements, and along brutal stuff you’ll find here also some nice harmonies, guitar leads and so on. In result, every song sounds special. Maybe some of you will miss a bit of that primitive and harsh nature of underground death metal, but let’s just say that with such spectacular albums it doesn’t really matter. For me it all sounds like Bloodbath tried to add something original to the old death metal skeletons and damn, this is why “Nightmare Made Flesh” is above 99% of old school death metal albums. They did succeeded and nailed it perfectly.
Great musicianship, killer riffs, fantastic arrangements… yes, it’s all here. But also great diversity, so 45 minutes and 12 songs go fast and never bore. There’s super fast, nasty and aggressive stuff, there’re more catchy and groovy mid paced riffs that have such a great feeling and you will bang your skull when listening to such “Eaten”, I am sure. And there’re plenty of melodic songs as well. The number of songs that will stay in your head and cause devastation in it is great – you have such monstrous pieces like “Cancer of the Soul, “Eaten” (best Bloodbath song ever with killer gory lyrics!), “The Ascension”, “Soul Evisceration”, “Outnumbering the Day”. These are my favourites, but how can I not recommend also such “Brave New Hell” or any other song on this album, really??
The best thing to do is to play it loud. You’ll feel its enormous energy and onslaught. Just be careful not to hurt your neck too much. Damn good album!
Standout tracks: “Cancer of the Soul, “Eaten”, “The Ascension”, “Soul Evisceration”, “Outnumbering the Day”

Final rate: 90/100

Persecutor - Bestial Overkill

PERSECUTOR - Bestial Overkill (TIME BEFORE TIME - CD 2011)
Polish metal scene is filled with killer bands and loads of great death or black metal stuff. We have also fantastic acts from the thrashing black / death metal style, with names like Witchmaster, Bestiality, Warfist, Ragehammer, Bloodthirst, Empheris, Excidium… And there’s also Persecutor. I don’t think that this band is widely known, even here in Poland I doubt that their name is known to everyone. They’re well hidden in the underground obscurity. But the stuff they’ve done so far, like this album and killer split CD with Poisoned are recordings, which I really wanna recommend. They were all released on small labels, so don’t expect anything fancy, glossy and mainstream. Time Before Time Records (label, which belonged to Tom H, from the mighty Throneum), which released Persecutor’s only album “Bestial Overkill” does not exist anymore for instance. Anyway, if you’ll ever have a chance to pick this album up or any other Persecutor’s releases, do so! They’re great, I think, especially this album. If you like evil sounding, raw, vulgar and aggressive pure metal, then you will love it for sure!
“Bestial Overkill” contains nine violent, relentless and filthy slabs of thrash / black metal. Persecutor’s influences may range from Bathory and old Slayer through Impaled Nazarene, Merciless and newer acts like Aura Noir, Nocturnal Breed and even Angel Corpse. And Motorhead of corpse! All songs are quite fast and straight forward, this music really sounds nasty and vicious, aggressive but also powerful, because the production is really good and energetic. It’s total devastation and vileness. “Bestial Overkill” never turns its ugly head for soft or melodic playing. It’s pure metal, you know?! And along this relentlessness that this music brings, it’s great that it has also some memorable parts, there’s always sort of chorus, where you will hear a catchy lyrical phrases and riffs, so the song will surely stick in your head and you will start to scream these lyrics next time you’ll play “Bestial Overkill”! It’s nothing complex or sophisticated, nothing progressive or ultra fancy. And that’s the way I like it. I don’t need super polished, plastic commercial metal like the one, which big labels offer. Much more I prefer such albums like “Bestial Overkill” and definitely it always gives me a good kick, what matters the most.
Standout tracks: “Possessed by Speed”, “Battlerape”, “Darkened Call”

Final rate: 80/100

Warfist - Metal to the Bone

WARFIST - Metal to the Bone (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2016)
If the previous Godz ov War Productions release that I listened to – and which was Misanthropic Rage’s “Gates No Longer Shut” – was rather a challenge and the music required attention for not being an easy listen, then this album is so straight forward and traditional in its sound and style that I got into it immediately. I liked it right from the first song. Here’s new Warfist album, “Metal to the Bone”! Yes! Although I have not yet had a chance to hear their previous CD, which is 2014’s “The Devil Lives in Grünberg”, I do know well and like the songs, which were released on splits called “Beasts of Necrothrash” and “Satanic & Violent Metal Aggression”. That’s why I pretty much knew what to expect from Warfist and I knew that I will like it. And Warfist does not disappoint, more so, I think they got so much better since the mentioned splits that I am truly impressed.
Actually 2016 was a year, where hardly anything can match the brilliance of another Polish album – Ragehammer’s amazing debut “The Hammer Doctrine”. But I suppose that Warfist is not that far behind and they also get a high place in my personal ranking. Oh man, I really like their aggressive and violent style of… can I just call it thrash metal? But the thing is Warfist sounds so much more brutal, darker and evil than all those wimpy US thrash bands, so I always hesitate to call it just thrash. Fuck that though. Let’s just imagine that these guys have combined some of the best ingredients from old records like “Show No Mercy”, “Obsessed by Cruelty”, “Endless Pain”, “The Return”, “Into the Abyss” (Poison!!!!!), “The Laws of Scourge”… and few more of course, as there are so many killer albums. I would even add Metallica, because the riffs in “Breed of War” in the opening theme do remind me “Disposable Heroes”. But the thing is Warfist plays all this shit in more intense and extreme way, they add more hellish sulphur and evilness to it, sometimes even spicing everything with a small black metal touch (and obviously Darkthrone can also be mentioned among their influences, as well as such Aura Noir). I won’t be even able to pick up the best songs, as all of them sound great and crush viciously. But I do wanna mention the title track, as it sounds like a real metal anthem, with an idea very similar to Desaster’s “Metallized Blood”. This song sounds fantastic. Also “Playing God” stands out a bit, but maybe because it reminds me something, but I just cannot put a name which other band and song it resembles. Who cares. The entire album sounds sweet and bad ass, so yeah – I loved it!
Definitely the title “Metal to the Bone” describes and fits this album perfectly and I just have nothing more to add. It is pure and 100% traditional metal, it is deeply rooted in the classics and yet it has something great to offer and does not taste like microwaved old food. I like the riffs, I like the vocals, I like how easily listenable it is and damn, I also like the production and this fantastic artwork. Both Godz ov War and Warfist did great job and  I sincerely recommend you “Metal to the Bone”. Grab a copy if you call yourself metalhead. Remember, it isn’t for pussies haha!
Standout track: “Metal to the Bone”

Final rate: 85/100

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Misanthropic Rage - Gates No Longer Shut

MISANTHROPIC RAGE - Gates No Longer Shut (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2016)
Godz ov War Productions has just prepared their three brand new releases. All together they make a nice set of Polish extreme metal that is worthy of you attention, believe me. I’ll leave Kingdom and Warfist reviews for later, but I can already say that they’re both really killer pieces of old school metal. Now I will write few words about Misanthropic Rage and their debut CD “Gates No Longer Shut”. This Polish band is new to me, I didn’t even know their name before this CD arrived, but I have to say that they’re quite promising beast and surely it’s yet another solid and worthy band on the death / black metal scene in Poland. I did enjoy “Gates No Longer Shut”, although the album required some more attention and many listens, before I got into it. It is far from being my 2016’s favourite release, but it’s a good debut, so please, check this band out.
“Gates No Longer Shut” is not an easy album. Misanthropic Rage music on one hand brings a killer dose of ferocious, brutal and dark sounding death / black metal which I liked a lot. There are definitely many fragments on this album, which let me think that this band is seriously good and deserve attention. They can play fast, but also have many killer mid paced or slow, but aggressive and vicious, dark sounding sections that I liked a lot.
But Misanthropic Rage style is not limited just to the extreme side and the band also takes a lot of inspiration from more progressive metal styles. They glue them into the death / black metal formulas without paying attention to any rules, schemes or standards, but the result not always pleases me as a listener. I mean, maybe some ideas and arrangements sound allright and I do like them as well, but at the same time there are some other that are just not effective enough. Sometimes the way the band decided to shift the way of playing or mood was too abrupt or maybe even unwanted. Especially the way clean vocals have been used here, their tone and way of singing, is not something I would like personally. They can irritate, luckily though clean vocals never play the main role, so it’s not something what would totally ruin this music for me.
Sure, there’s a lot of interesting and various things going on, “Gates No Longer Shut” is far from being one dimensional and monotonous. If you like music, which is not typical and which would avoid standard schemes, then this may be something for you. And as such, the title of this album is very fitting, as it informs you that the music is not just the classic black / death metal patterns, but it’s open for something new and evolves into often unexpected hybrids. Sometimes, like in the title song, it’s not something I would like, other time, like in “I, the Redeemer” the result is more satisfactory. But you may think that Misanthropic Rage did not manage to convince me at all. You’re wrong. This album did grow on me. After first couple of listens, I was not into it at all. But after a while and more listens, it got better. I’m far from liking “Gates No Longer Shut” in its entirety, there are some fragments, which I do not like, but at least they’re just few. Definitely “Into the Crypt” and “Cross Hatred” are my favourite songs here.
Standout tracks: “Into the Crypt”, “Cross Hatred”

Final rate: 65/100

Death - Scream Bloody Gore

DEATH - Scream Bloody Gore (UNDER ONE FLAG LP 1987)
This is a timeless release. This is a fundamental death metal album. This is also the FIRST death metal album that was ever released (yes, I consider “Seven Churches” more a thrash metal, if any of these genre tags matter at all). And if there are albums that really – and I mean REALLY – deserve being called “classics” or “cult”, then “Scream Bloody Gore” is among them. These are undisputable facts. It may not be the best album of all time, it’s not even my favourite Death record (as I prefer “Leprosy” and “Spiritual Healing” way more), but it had an enormous influence on the entire scene and belongs to genre defining albums.
I can only imagine how strange it had to be to see these 20 years old kids recording such filth and singing about cunts, zombie rituals and other disgusting, repulsive things. But they did it! It was 1987 when two youngsters – Chuck Schuldiner and Chris Reifert – recorded “Scream Bloody Gore”. There was also a third band member, John Hand, but his place in history of extreme music is limited only to the photo on back of the vinyl, as he didn’t record even one part of bass or guitar. What an unlucky dude haha!
“Scream Bloody Gore” was released by Combat Records in 1987. Personally, I’ve heard it for the first time in 1991. It was actually quite funny, but I bought a cassette with “Spiritual Healing” cover, but the tape was mistaken with “Scream…”, so for some months I didn’t even realize that what I listen to is “Scream Bloody Gore” haha! One of the things, for which I love this record is the fantastic artwork. It’s superb and one of the most classic artworks in the metal history! Obviously the lyrics are something a lot of people moan about. They hate their primitive and vulgar nature, they hate this gory style and for them it’s just stupid, childish and non-sense crap. Well, who cares. “Revengeful corpses out to kill. Smell the stench, your guts will spill. Vomit for a mind, maggots for a cock. With his axe the corpse will chop…” Ha, what a nice stuff. Death metal is not a place for romantic poetry, so I don’t understand people moaning about brutal, gory lyrics. I actually prefer them over the philosophical or social topics, which you can find on some other Death albums.
Now the music. First I have to say that I love the production of “Scream Bloody Gore”. If we have to compare this record to “Seven Churches”, then Death’s debut kicks the shit out of Possessed, not only musically, but also due to much better, heavier, more aggressive and darker production. It had to be tricky to come up with a sound, which would be proper for such brutal music. But it had to be done, because this music would not work with a simple thrash metal production. It required something different and the band succeeded fully. And the songs are superb. This is Death and death metal in its infancy, so don’t expect that it sounds technical, clean and progressive. Do not expect that “Scream Bloody Gore” will have much in common with “Human” or “Symbolic”. If you’re a fan of the latter Death album, this debut may be difficult for you to get into, as it’s way more primitive, harsh and just nasty sounding death metal. It’s full of gore and horror, dark and almost macabre atmosphere. And for me personally it all sounds super fantastic. I love many of these songs and no matter how many times I’ve been listening to them, they just don’t get old and boring. I still get thrills when some of these riffs mutilate and cut deep and some of these songs belong to the most recognizable death metal tracks of all time. We have here such killers as “Zombie Ritual”, “Evil Dead”, “Sacrificial”, “Regurgitated Guts” or “Mutilation”. Some of them are very vicious and quite fast sounding, other may have slower riffage and even some harmonies, which will later become trademark for Schuldiner style of playing and Death. For example the opening melodies for “Zombie Ritual” and “Evil Dead” – they are so memorable and fantastic sounding!
Soooo… I don’t have to write that if you’re into this style of music, you just have to take a sip from the goblet of gore at least once. If you don’t like its taste, then you must be either poser or you’re simply out of your fuckin mind. It’s essential release and mandatory item for everyone’s collection. I have Under One Flag’s 1987 European version of “Scream Bloody Gore”. Obviously it is awesome to have this press, I have it since many years and will never get rid of it. There’s one thing though, which I hate about it. It doesn’t have two additional songs that appeared on other pressings of “Scream Bloody Gore”. “Beyond the Unholy Grave” and “Land of No Return” are also great songs (especially the first one), they should be here as well! So, in case your version of “Scream Bloody Gore” also doesn’t have these tracks, you just have to buy yourself one more version (CD or LP), which would include the entire tracklist. “Scream Bloody Gore” was reissued on vinyl in 2016 and this new remastered version has the complete album.
Standout tracks: “Zombie Ritual”, “Mutilation”, “Evil Dead”, “Regurgitated Guts”, “Sacrificial”

Final rate: 90/100