Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ataraxy - The Festival / The Tomb

ATARAXY - The Festival / The Tomb (ME SACO UN OJO - 7"EP 2016)
I really like what’s going on in Spanish death metal scene nowadays, where some bands really prove to be worthy and are better than anything what this country has spawned in the 90’s. My two favourites are Graveyard and Ataraxy. Both have proven strongly that there’re no better bands in their country. But I was getting little bit worried that we hear nothing from Ataraxy since the release of their fantastic debut LP “Revelations of the Ethereal”. I do hope they’re working on new record and that it will be released soon. Meanwhile though we get this 7”EP “The Festival / The Tomb”. It contains two songs that were recorded during the “Revelations…” session, but were not featured on the actual album. I know what you may think now… Two leftovers, so it means they were not good enough to be on the full length. Well, I have to say that it doesn’t feel like it at all. When I listen to both songs I feel exactly the same thrill which I do during the listening of “Revelations of the Ethereal”. Both “The Festival” and “The Tomb” are great quality death metal songs, which should be also on the album. And I think the only reason why they’re not there is that the album would be just too long. Anyway, it’s great that Me Saco Un Ojo released this seven inch, it’s killer addition to my Ataraxy collection and occasion to listen to two new songs from this killer band.
I believe that Ataraxy music was becoming more and more original and worthy, getting more quality with each new recording. Of course I still like their very “Sweden meats Autopsy” sounding demo “Rotten Shit”, but what the band did on “Revelations of the Ethereal” is so much better. And these two “outtakes” from the session sound incredibly good. I love that dark, eerie atmosphere of the music, I truly like the production. And the riffage, with great combination of slow and faster parts is insanely good. For me this is perfect death metal, my most preferred style within this genre. And Ataraxy knows how to play it, compose and arrange it to make it sound better than 99% of other death metal bands around. I especially love “The Festival”, with its great slow parts, creepy melodies, keyboards that give it more obscure feeling and sudden outbursts of faster death metal that are going to break necks of every headbanger. Honestly though “The Tomb” is also amazing, it’s tad heavier, more brutal and vicious – especially the opening theme here gives me a goose bumps every time I hear it.
So, outtakes or not, these two songs are killer and it’s such a good feeling to listen to Ataraxy again. They’re one of my favourite bands for sure, so I hope they’ll finally come up with another album. Meanwhile, I strongly recommend this EP. Get it before it’s too late.

Final rate: 90/100

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Gravebomb - Rot In Putrid Filth

GRAVEBOMB - Rot In Putrid Filth (RAW SKULL Rekordz - CD 2017)
Raw Skull Rekordz is still a young label, but I think they already have some killer releases behind them and even more are announced for 2017. Watch out for them, I believe there are going to be some splendid CDs coming. Most of the bands, which Raw Skull releases are young and yet very little known, some with their debut recordings only. Just as Gravebomb from Sweden, who just released their first CD “Rot In Putrid Filth”. Maybe their name is a bit ridiculous, but the music sounds fantastic and if you dig old school Swedish death metal then you will like it a lot. Obviously you shouldn’t expect that “Rot In Putrid Filth” will be a groundbreaking or genre defining album, it’s actually very typical for this sort of music and it doesn’t surprise the listener with anything what you have not heard before. But the strength of bands like Gravebomb lies in fantastic songwriting, ability of coming up with plenty of killer riffs, amazing melodies and that basically everything has been done in perfect, top notch way. You know, it’s not enough to plug in the Boss HM-2 pedal and play some chunky, heavy riffs along memorable melodies. To be good, you need more than that and I believe that Gravebomb has that something.
As a fan of Swedish death metal I can say that “Rot In Putrid Filth” ticks all the right boxes, there’s everything I love about such style of music and more so, Gravebomb does not sound tired or unnatural, they have this passion and youngsters’ enthusiasm, what only gives better and better results. Their music is powerful, filled with rotten, dark energy, it blasts like crazy and at the same time, along all this aggression, comes catchiness. This album is almost easy to listen to and I personally was into it seconds after the music began. And what an opener “Parasite Spawn” is. This is what I call perfect Swedish death metal song – it begins with blasting stuff, later it can be melodic and doomy, but it all fits together perfectly and the listening is very pleasant. But that’s only the beginning, the whole “Rot In Putrid Filth” contains eleven songs, so there’s plenty more to come. I’ve been playing this album so many times and enjoyed every bit of it. Gravebomb may be just one of many such bands these days and to some of you they won’t be worth attention, since you already have Revel in Flesh, Entrails, Puteraeon and more… but I believe that real fans of this style will check them out also and more so, they will love this music. Because it’s damn awesome. I’m into it and I can only congratulate such a good debut album.
Standout tracks: “Parasite Spawn”, “Animal Hunger”, “Morbid Machine”, “Prime Directive”

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 10 February 2017

Sepulchral Curse - At the Onset of Extinction

SEPULCHRAL CURSE - At the Onset of Extinction (LYCANTHROPIC CHANTS - MC 2017)
I’ve been playing both previous Lycanthropic Chants releases lately and I have to say that I really like the stuff, which this small label has unleashed so far (and which were Morte and God Disease tapes). Sepulchral Curse cassette titled “At the Onset of Extinction” is next release from Lycanthropic Chants and another one, which I truly enjoyed. I have to admit that this EP impressed me, because not only its quality is higher than your average newcoming death metal band would usually bring, but also ‘cos the music is different to the typical Demigod or Demilich copycats, even if certainly some parts of the traditional Finnish as well as Swedish sound can be spotted here. I don’t want to say that Sepulchral Curse sounds unique nor that it is something extraordinary and spectacular. It’s solid stuff, which just sounds a bit different to most of these one dimensional sounding bands around.
Their style is deeply seeded in the traditional death metal, but the way they incorporate melodies or screamed vocals take their music sometimes even into the black metal territory. It’s a pleasant mixture of death and melodic black metal with some hints of doom then. It includes many impressive riffs and arrangements, most noticeable in the opening song “Envisioned in Scars” (best song for me). I personally like, when Sepulchral Curse speeds up, all these fragments with blasting drums and truly uncompromising riffage are crushing! But on the other hand the slowest song from all, which is the final gigantic anthem “Disrupting Lights of Extinction” also stands out with great harmonies and sheer doom heaviness. So yeah, diversity is definitely a positive aspect of “At the Onset of Extinction” and all these four songs are very interesting and enjoyable.
I suppose the only thing, which I don’t really like about “At the Onset of Extinction” are the mentioned screamed vocals. I never like this sort of vocals, when mixed into heavy death metal growls, it doesn’t work for me and rather annoys me than makes positive impression. But I can live with it. Sepulchral Curse brought us a good release and we should keep our eyes open for their next recordings.
Standout track: “Envisioned in Scars”

Final rate: 70/100

Suffocation / Fleshcrawl - Festering Thoughts from a Grave

SUFFOCATION / FLESHCRAWL - Festering Thoughts from a Grave (RAW SKULL Rekordz CD 2016)
Demo compilation of Fleshcrawl is definitely something what death metal maniacs should welcome with open arms. This is such a killer band, I think they never recorded a bad album and ever since they debuted with “Lost in a Grave” EP in 1991 they’ve been delivering only fantastic stuff. This compilation is quite special, because it’s includes also stuff, which was recorded in pre-Fleshcrawl band, when they were called Suffocation. So, we have “Mummified Thoughts” demo from 1990 and “Festering Flesh” from 1991. I never had a chance to hear either of these two demos before, so it’s a great pleasure to have them on CD in good quality and to be able to finally listen to them.
Starting the feast with “Mummified Thoughts” then, I was really surprised to find out that Suffocation in their early days were more thrash metal band than death metal. Do not expect to hear anything even close stylistically, not me mention the quality, to Fleshcrawl’s debut album, because this demo is completely different. It’s savage, vicious and quite aggressive thrash metal, I guess they had equally European as well as American influences, with the vocals far from the guttural growl of death metal bands… I have to say that I quite like their raw production on this demo and the songs, even if are far from being very impressive – because it’s quite primitive and archaic sounding stuff – are decent. Sometimes I get annoyed with some of the vocal lines, but who cares, right? It’s 1990 demo! I think that such demos give a lot of fun to listener, when he hears them these days. You know, this demo was recorded by some kids 26 years ago, but this recording survived all this time and was rescued from oblivion, which is very cool thing I must say.
Second Suffocation demo “Festering Flesh” demo shows a good improvement, basically everything on this demo sounds different and better. Not only Alex Pretzer changed his vocals for the low, deep growl, but the music of Suffocation became heavier, more brutal and the weak thrash metal is replaced with very harsh and raw sounding death metal. It’s not bad at all and the demo sounds quite solid, although the sound could have been a bit better. And I don’t necessarily mean the production value per se, but rather the fact that sometimes, like in “Phrenetic Tendencies” or even more in “Infected Subconscious” the sound is waving, so it feels like they’ve taken the music from an old and pretty used copy of cassette. It does disturb a bit and surely this aspect could have been improved, but I am far from feeling disappointed. It just feels great to hear “Festering Flesh”, solid demo and good announcement of what was yet to come from these guys.
The final part of “Festering Thoughts from a Grave” is the classic “Lost In a Grave” EP, released already under the name Fleshcrawl. Again you will notice much improvement in this band’s music, I like this EP a lot, especially the title song sounds killer, so definitely this is my favourite part of this compilation. I don’t know if there’s much point in describing this EP, because I believe that old maniacs know it well, but let me just say that Fleshcrawl sounds fuckin savage on “Lost In a Grave” and it’s just great piece of death metal. It’s one of those classic releases, which you want to come back to as often as possible. It’s the real beginning of this fantastic German band, who through all these years became one of my favourite band of all time. So, even if the demos are not necessarily the best thing I ever listened to, it’s great to have “Festering Thoughts from a Grave” in my collection, as it is an important part of the history of Fleshcrawl.

Final rate: 75/100

Wombbath / Departed Souls - Embrace the Cold...

WOMBBATH / DEPARTED SOULS - Embrace the Cold... (RAW SKULL Rekordz CD 2016)
I love splits. And I can only be happy that this idea of joining two or more bands on one CD/LP/MC/whatever didn’t die and more and more such stuff is released. I’ve enjoyed many splits that came out in 2016 and here’s yet another one, which brought my attention. Two great bands, both with some new crushing songs – can there be anything better?
First comes Wombbath. Yes, this is the same band, which had a good album “Internal Caustic Torments” released in 1993 and then catastrophic miniCD “Lavatory” in 1994. They reformed in 2014 and since then their catalogue has been increased with second full length album and few splits, one of which is “Embracing the Cold...”. There are two songs from Wombbath here and on both Wombbath offers old school death metal. What else could it be, right?! The band is Swedish and obviously they sound Swedish, but with that harsher, more aggressive and vicious style. The first of their songs is pretty typical, but solid, while the second “Punisher of Broken Oaths” is truly killer, in my opinion. I love how fast and aggressive, how nasty it is, I love the riffs and everything about it, so this song is a winner for me. The production could have been a bit better, for example the song they have on split with Revel in Flesh sounds better… but it’s not a major complain from me, I like it. Good, worthy comeback.
Departed Souls debuted with fantastic “Barbaric Tortures” in 2015 and I come back to this release (which I have on CD and 10”MLP) often, because I just love it. Here we have three songs, but one of them is a live recording, so I’m not gonna discuss this one. In other two the band sounds very old school and they also take a lot of influence from the Swedish scene, but not only, as I personally prefer to simply call them an European sounding death metal band in general, without having a tag of copycat of one band only. Departed Souls have killer riffs, very good vocalist, their music shred with no mercy and damn, I just like it a lot! “Fear... Pin Head” – which is sort of new version of a song from “Barbaric Tortures” - is better of the two songs, it’s dark, ferocious, it’s fast and just brilliant. But “Cold Deep Waters” is also fantastic and believe me, if you dig this sort of death metal then you will like this band a lot. For me Departed Souls is one of the best bands from this sort of playing in Europe at the moment, I would love to see them releasing a full length album, sadly it’s postponed due to their drummer’s serious illness. I wish him all the best and hope it all will end up good and they’ll attack us with the killer music again soon.
Killer, recommended split.
Standout tracks: “Fear…”, “Cold Deep Waters”, “Punisher of Broken Oaths”

Final rate: 85/100

Cryptic Realms - Enraptured by Horror

CRYPTIC REALMS - Enraptured by Horror (DEATH IN PIECES - CD 2016)
After two great recordings – which were “Eve of Fatality” demo and a fantastic split with Astigarraga Thrower – the time finally came for a debut album from international death metal monsters Cryptic Realms. I liked these previous releases a lot, so I was definitely looking forward to hear “Enraptured by Horror” as well. It came out through Death in Pieces Records and I was playing it many times in past couple of days. I can already say that my general impression is that it’s good album, I do not feel disappointed with it… but I feel also that it could have been slightly better in some aspects. No, not some… There’s only one thing, which I really think the band should have improved and it’s the production. I don’t like it so much, to be honest, I think that “Enraptured by Horror” sounds too artificial, especially the drums sound weak, but also guitar tone is not what I usually like. I think that these songs would sound way better if the production was more powerful, more organic, natural and everything sounded also more brutal, more vicious. The effect would be much more impressive then… I also think that the drumming in faster parts is a bit sloppy, but…
But “Enraptured by Horror” is what it is… and I don’t want to say that it’s a bad album, because it definitely is not. You can get used to this sound after a while and more importantly, the songwriting is great and Cryptic Realms came up again with bunch of killer tracks, what definitely saves everything from disaster. Yes, I like these songs a lot, they’re killer. I like this sort of simplistic death metal, which Cryptic Realms play. It’s so deeply rooted in the traditional, old school style that it could have easily been composed 25 years ago. They have a strong influence from Death, Obituary, Massacre… and from newer bands also, because I think that “Enraptured by Horror” sounds a lot like Gruesome or Kam Lee’s bands Bone Gnawer and The Grotesquery. Even the vocals of Uriel sound a lot like Kam’s characteristic harsh growl. Which is cool, of course. Cryptic Realms came up with many great riffs, their music has this creepy, dark atmosphere, which I like, but it all sounds heavy and insanely memorable at the same time. Songs like “Sinister Force Descends”, “In Mortal Distress”, “Begging to Be Dead” or the title song are just great and they do not sound boring or tired, they do not sound monotonous or unauthentic. It’s very solid and worth of recommendation, so even if at the first listen you won’t feel it, maybe due to the production, I bet that after a while this album will speak to you more and more.
Standout tracks: “Sinister Force Descends”, “In Mortal Distress”, “Begging to Be Dead”

Final rate: 70/100

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Witchrist / Antediluvian - split EP

WITCHRIST / ANTEDILUVIAN Split 7"EP (Martyrdoom Productions EP 2015)
This split 7” blew my head off and was a delight for my ears, because I learned from it that Witchrist is a band, which I really need to find out more about. So far I was familiar with this New Zealand legion only by their name, I knew that they have some connections with other killer acts like Diocletian and Heresiarch, but I was never given an opportunity to hear their music. Until this morning when I started to listen to this new purchase, which is a split 7” with Witchrist / Antediluvian. Damn, Witchrist sounds fantastic. On one hand it seems like their music may be very similar to bands like Grave Miasma, Irkallian Oracle, Teitanblood, Adversarial or Diocletian. All these bands have a lot in common, when speaking of this truly dense, brutal, insanely obscure and sepulchral death / black metal. But even if it may seem like they all walk around similar patterns, each of these bands has something unique to offer… So does Witchrist. I personally just can’t resist to their music, to this bulldozing sound and utterly dark, bleak, sometimes almost ritualistic aura. I’m like “WOW! It sounds so fuckin amazing”, and believe me, Witchrist does such a good job with “The Burning Reprieve” that the same day I ordered a copy of “The Grand Tormentor” vinyl and I am sure that it is only a beginning. I will need more from this awesome band.
Antediluvian is a band, which on the other hand I am very well familiar with. I have some vinyl from them in my collection (but I still miss some shit, like “λόγος”, so I am yet to complete my Antediluvian set). “Shifting Transcendental: Autonomous Gate to the Other Side” obviously fits to Witchrist side perfectly when speaking of the musical styles of both bands, but the music of Antediluvian is even more brutal and obscure, it’s faster and truly chaotic. It may not be my favourite song from them, but I have yet not heard anything bad from this Canadian band also, they do not disappoint and fuck, when I play this shit and listen to it on headphones, in total darkness, I almost feel like closed in a coffin, so claustrophobic is their sound.
Very recommendable split seven inch then. Two great bands, very nice presentation of this release… it’s a must to have in my opinion.

Final rate: 80/100

Friday, 3 February 2017

Crawl - Worship Death

CRAWL - Worship Death (Inhuman Assault Productions MC 2016)
Hope you’re not tired with all this old school death metal flood and you will happily want to find out about yet another band that plays this best music of all. Here’s Swedish Crawl with their second cassette titled “Worship Death”. It was also released as 7”EP (out on Bloodsoaked Records), but I managed to grab it on tape (limited to 50 copies only), but that’s fine, at least for now, because I will definitely want a vinyl also. I have to say that I have a lot of sympathy for bands like Crawl. Their music may not be the most original or standout in the crowd of similar death metal bands… It is nothing exceptional, but I like it a lot anyway and this is just pure pleasure to listen to such stuff.
Three songs are on “Worship Death” and stylistically it’s filthy, nasty old school death metal with that necessary, but typical Swedish production (which cannot be mistaken with anything else! And I love it) and a strong punkish vibe, what reminds me of bands like Bombs of Hades or The Dead Goats. Crawl has really a lot of potential, they came up with great songs, I like their riffs and killer feeling, which this music has. Slower parts are especially great, they’re heavy and vicious, but honestly I think that the whole music of this band is just damn good Occasionally they come up with some melodies and “Drenched” is definitely my favourite song here, just because it has the best melodic piece from the whole EP… Arrrgghhhh… I cannot be objective when I listen to this sort of music, I am never too critical towards such bands, a lot of them are instant winners for me… and yes, Crawl is great also. I want to hear more from them, I need to find their previous cassette also and I do hope they’ll come up with an album shortly also. Recommended for the maniacs of this shitty rotten music!!!! Hahah!

Final rate: 80/100

God Dethroned - The Grand Grimoire

GOD DETHRONED - The Grand Grimoire (METAL BLADE - LP 1997)
In 1993, after the debut album “The Christhunt” was released, God Dethroned split up. But Henri Sattler, who in the meantime played in doom metal act Lords of the Stone, decided to reform his old death metal band in 1996, bringing completely new line with him. Second album “The Grand Grimoire” came out in 1997 under Metal Blade Records and surely it was a worthy and noticeable comeback, very successful, both when speaking of the music and when speaking of the promotion and feedback the band received.
Honestly, I will always consider “The Christhunt” as my favourite God Dethroned album, because it’s the closest to what I like in death metal and musically it fits my taste perfectly, with that harsh sounding, dark, satanic death metal that the band recorded for the debut. “The Grand Grimoire”, and all other albums, which God Dethroned recorded after the reunion, are quite different stylistically, I dare to say that they don’t have much in common with the debut record, but that doesn’t mean it’s something bad. First of all, the music became much more melodic, with plenty of memorable harmonies spread through the whole “The Grand Grimoire”, which is why the album is so easily listenable and catchy as well. I think I can describe these melodies as melancholic, especially in song like “Under the Silver Moon”. What worked so well on “The Grand Grimoire” is that God Dethroned managed to combine these melodies with great aggressive death metal, with good variation between fast and slower parts and very nice, energetic sound. I like that they have a good balance between all these aspects and more so, I also like that the production is not over polished and it still has that sharp, dirty tone on guitars and vocals are sounding so vicious (although Sattler’s harsh, screaming voice is very different to his growls on the debut album, where he used a lot or reverb and sounded much more inhuman). The music seems to be also way better played, it is completely derived of that chaotic and messy character of the debut album, with not a slightest sign of death metal primitiveness. Good technical skills, some great guitar leads… yeah, definitely it’s a good stuff from start to finish.
The songwriting on “The Grand Grimoire” is very good. There are many songs that will stay in your head and are really standing out. The vicious and very fuckin angry and aggressive “The Art of Immolation” is my favourite, I love its savage sound and fast parts. The title song brings some of the best riffs of the whole album, with great mixture of melodic and nasty riffage and is so memorable that you’ll want to play it again and again. Third track which I wanna mention is “Under the Silver Moon” – it stands out not only due to this killer mixture of brilliant fast death metal and melodic, almost doomy parts… but also with some of the most blasphemous lyrics from the whole album. “Copulating Maria!!!!!!!”, yeah! “Into a Dark Millenium” is another fine song, so bloody malicious and aggressive! And I suppose the only song, which I don’t like so much is the final track “Fire”, which is obviously a cover of Arthur Brown. But it’s just a cover, so it doesn’t even matter much. Rest of the album is good enough to make me forget about it anyway.
Standout tracks: “The Art of Immolation”, “The Grand Grimoire”, “Under the Silver Moon”

Final rate: 80/100

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Corpus Rottus - Nihilism

Corpus Rottus was a solid, but shortly lived US brutal death metal band, which maybe never got a lot of appreciation, but their only album, 1991’s “Rituals of Silence”, was a good effort. It’s one of those cool, but rather lesser known releases, which had no chance to become as popular as “Effigy of Forgotten” or “The Dead Shall Inherit” but does it mean it’s not worthy of support? I like it! Corpus Rottus split up around 1992-93 I think, but before calling it quits they did one more recording, which is a demo titled “Nihilism”. It was not released, until Outlaw Recordings came up with its vinyl version (which must be quite rare, as I’ve never seen a copy of it anywhere) and later Lost Apparitions Records did a CD version of it in 2012. It’s great that this demo was saved from being forgotten, because it’s very solid portion of death metal, that really sounds great and brutal as fuck.
This demo contains eight songs, but three of them you can scratch right away, since they’re like few seconds short only, so they’re not so interesting and there’s nothing special about them. The rest of the songs is also quite short, their time is never longer that three minutes, but it’s enough to get hit hard with this heavy and massive sounding shit. There are some great riffs, the pace is usually fast, so there’s no time wasted and it feels like the band attacks right from the beginning, with no aim to take prisoners, but to crush and destroy. For me this demo sounds exactly as I like brutal death metal to be – not overly technical, but also not annoying with some shitty pigsty vocals or unreadable riffs. This is pure death metal, with fierce, brutal sound, sick vocals and sometimes with quite groovy feeling. The song writing is impressive, production is quite good also I have to say, so I am sure that if this demo was released back in 1992, then it would get a lot of good responses. Life’s a bitch though, Corpus Rottus is no more… but I am glad that the demo was rescued from complete oblivion.
Standout tracks: “Beyond the Obsequium”, “Funeral Homes and Morgues”

Final rate: 80/100