Thursday, 28 September 2017

Witchburn - The Roots of Darkness and Evil

WITCHBURN - The Roots of Darkness and Evil (DARK OMENS Productions CD 2017)
Where are the roots of darkness and evil? For most black metal bands they lie in the 80's and the classics like Venom, Bathory, Tormentor, old Sodom and KreatorHellhammer, Merciless, Mayhem and so many more. Here's Polish band Witchburn, who definitely learned their lesson in history of extreme music, so this is probably why their album is soaked with the influences from the 80's satanic metal. You can obviously also bring comparisons to such Nifelheim, but who cares... I am sure that by now you know what to expect from this album. And I have to say that "The Roots of Darkness and Evil" is damn good shit and I enjoyed it 
I really like many of these Polish thrashing black metal bands, like EmpherisRagehammer, Armagh, Bestiality or Warfist. They don't give a shit about sounding nice or fancy, they can have dirty, raw production, messy riffs, sloppy drumming or harsh, drunken vocals, but the feeling of such music is killer. And I always love these thrashing riffs and catchy, memorable tunes these bands play. Witchburn is very much similar and you will find everything that characterizes this sort of style done in almost perfect way. Every song is aggressive and vicious, but that doesn't disturb them to have catchy choruses and riffs, which will force headbanging from you. The songs are awesome, really well played and the production is fantastic, I have to say. The old school vibe is there, so is the evil, satanic aura. Do I need more? No, these are some worthy 30 minutes of music, which I can listen to for the whole fuckin day. Whether the music is fast or a bit slower, it just sounds right to me. And it doesn't matter if the music sounds quite typical or schematic... Who cares, it slays. 
By the way, two things have surprised me about the line up for Witchburn. The drummer who goes by the name Tuna plays also in death metal bands from Denmark, which I fuckin love:  HyperdontiaPhrenelith and Sulphurous! I had no idea they have Polish drummer, but this is fuckin awesome, I have to say. Well done to this guy. He obviously did awesome job for Witchburn also. But I was surprised also that he and Svart (the other Witchburn member) played in band called Redivivus. Why? Well, it's been many, many years ago, when I got two Redivivus demos "Daemonolatria" and "Transcendental Thoughts Transmission" for review for my very first fanzine. I think it must have been around 1999 or 2000, when I got them. I have not listened to Redivivus since then, I almost forgot about this band's existence, but now I was reminded about it. And I will have to check my boxes, if I still have these old demos. It would be pretty cool to play them again. I will let you know with a review, if I find them! Until then, please grab a copy of "The Roots of Darkness and Evil" and bang your fuckin skull!!!! 
Standout tracks: "Rebellion and Lust", "Sworn to the Dark", "Myszeis" 
Final rate: 70/100 

Maze of Torment - The Force

MAZE OF TORMENT - The Force (CD 1997)
While listening to Harmony's "Summoning the Past" recently, I realized that I have not played anything from Maze of Torment for a long time. So, it was about time to remind myself about this band. And the first CD I picked up from the dusted shelf was their debut album "The Force". It was released in 1997 and it's their first recording since the change of the name from Harmony to Maze of Torment. I still like this album a lot, I have to say, it may even be my favourite Maze of Torment record, although let's be honest - this band was always quite mediocre for the Swedish death / black metal scene. They never belonged to my favourites also, but I enjoyed to listen to their music occasionally. And this is definitely one of the finest recordings from Maze of Torment. 
If I was going to be strongly critical towards "The Force" then I would probably call it less exciting version of Dissection or Necrophobic. Stylistically Maze of Torment had a lot in common with these two, but maybe they had a bit more thrash metal riffage mixed into their music, a bit similar maybe to another Swedish band, Merciless. What I like about "The Force" though is that many of the riffs, which are on this album, are melodic, but the music doesn't lack that aggressive and vicious factor. Maze of Torment tried not to sound dull and they did succeed, in my opinion, because the songwriting on this album is damn good and for sure it has improved a lot from their days as Harmony. So, melodic or not, this is still quite savage and vicious stuff, with nice sharp and aggressive riffs, killer croaky screams of the vocalist Pehr Larsson (guy, who's also been involved in the recording of Vinterland's "Welcome to my Last Chapter", one of my favourite Swedish albums ever!). And the atmosphere is dark and cold, very alike to the early Dissection albums. Or Vinterland. I mentioned this band here, because Maze of Torment can easily be mentioned among the great melodic death / black metal bands from Sweden from the late 90's, along also Unanimated, Sacramentum and few more. And believe me, "The Force" is as good as all these killer albums from these other bands, in my opinion, so if you like this sort of melodic but harsh and aggressive death / black metal, then this is another album for your collection. 
"The Force" is filled with good songs like "Shapeless in the Dark", "Dream of Blood", "Brave the Blizzard", with all these killer, memorable riffs and great vocals. I also have to say that I like the production from Unisound Studio, it truly fits that dark and vicious ambience of the music. Dan Swano even played keyboards and guitar leads in two songs, if that means anything to you. So, it was good feeling to listen to Maze of Torment again, after such a long time. I was afraid that "The Force" grew old badly, but it didn't, it still sounds aggressive and great. I would love to see it released on vinyl, to be honest. 
Standout tracks:  "Shapeless in the Dark", "Dream of Blood", "Brave the Blizzard", "Land Unknown" 
Final rate: 80/100 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Harmony - Summoning the Past

HARMONY - Summoning the Past (KONQUEROR Records CD 2004)
"Summoning the Past" is a compilation with some unreleased songs of the Swedish band called Harmony. I have to admit that I bought this CD without hearing any music from Harmony, but I knew that later they changed the name for Maze of Torment, which is a band I quite like to listen to. I also told myself that any Swedish death metal from the early 90's is always nice to listen to and must be good. Well, Harmony were mediocre only, to say the best about them, but who cares... it's another piece of the Swedish death metal history that I learned. 
I honestly don't know Harmony demos, so I am not sure what the beginnings of this band were like, but I can say that these songs, which are compiled for "Summoning the Past" are not so much impressive. They come from three different recording sessions, all from 1994, but one took place in Unisound Studio and the other two in Underground Studio. So, we have six songs here. But the music is just mediocre quality melodic death metal, slightly alike to early Dissection. And it is nothing special. I am actually happy that this is only 25 minutes of music, because more would probably bore me to death. Harmony sounds dull, their riffs sound lazy and uninspiring. I miss some aggression and spark, which would set powerful fire on the speakers. Maybe it's a matter of the production or maybe it's because how Harmony was blending death metal with some thrashing and melodic parts... Whatever the reason, "Summoning the Past" is far from the best recordings of the old era. 
It's not terrible, they have some good riffs... My favourite song is "Mountains of Frost", as this song is pretty harsh and aggressive, with a lot of similarities to the early Dissection, which is cool. Then "Duke of Grief - Part I/II" are not bad also, although the production is not so good. All in all, it can seem like a decent effort, but I just cannot convince myself fully that Harmony music was so interesting. Maze of Torment's "The Force" which came out a couple of years later is much, much better in my opinion. 
Standout track: "Mountains of Frost" 
Final rate: 65/100 

Fleshcrawl - Bloodred Massacre

FLESHCRAWL - Bloodred Massacre (BLACK MARK CD 1997)
1997 wasn't the best year for death metal, but some great records obviously were released that year. Dismember unleashed one of my favourite albums "Death Metal", Necrophobic came up with their fantastic second nocturnal opus "Darkside" and Vital Remains blew heads off with "Forever Underground"... And Fleshrawl released one of their best albums, the guts-ripping "Bloodred Massacre". It may sound funny that one of the best bands, which play the Swedish style of death metal is from Germany, but who cares, Fleshcrawl fuckin rules and released many killer albums. "Bloodred Massacre" is a real highlight of their discography, an album, which sounds perfect from start to finish and has no time wasted for filler songs or bullshit. These 33 minutes bring very well selected death metal songs, where not even a single moment is dull or uninteresting. It's intense and aggressive, but occasionally also groovy and melodic death metal, which you have to worship! 
This album may have similarities to Grave's heaviness and aggression or to Hypocrisy's and Dismember's dark harmony. But that doesn't matter if it sounds like these bands or not. What's important is that Fleshcrawl really came up with fantastic riffs and great songs. I truly think that "Bloodred Massacre" has no weak parts and I love every bit of it. I like how Fleshcrawl blends blasting and ferocious parts with mid-paced sections, how nasty are many of these riffs. But Fleshcrawl doesn't forget to include some melodic parts. And despite its death metal viciousness, "Bloodred Massacre" is surprisingly memorable. There are many hooky chorus sections and the simplicity of this sort of death metal also helps these songs to be remembered. On top of everything, Sven Gross who replaced Alex Pretzer on vocals, did a great job and sounds like a beast and the production fixed by Peter Tägtgren in his famous Abyss Studio is simply top notch. 
"Bloodred Massacre" is not a death metal best masterpiece. But I don't care for such descriptions, all I want is to hear some killer death metal tunes. And Fleshcrawl delivers that on this album in perfect and most solid way. I can listen to this album over and over again and it simply never gets boring. It has many strengths and no weak parts, even Slayer's cover of "Necrophiliac" sounds awesome. And such songs are "Bloodred Massacre", "The Messenger", "Awaiting the Flesh" or "Dark Dimension" are pure joy for every death metal maniac. 
Standout tracks: as above mentioned 
Final rate: 80/100