Sunday, 9 December 2018

Cenotaph - Empire of Sin

CENOTAPH - Empire of Sin (DARK OMENS Productions CD 2018)
Recorded in 1993, "Empire of Sin" was Cenotaph's second and last demo. Some time later the band split up, which is a shame, because they were a very promising band and it seemed like they would achieve at least the same status as Damnation. Sadly, their history ended. But now, 25 years later Dark Omens Productions took a chance and exhumed this ancient piece of obscure death metal and pressed it on CD. Fantastic idea, in my opinion! This way another great demo is saved from oblivion and many people, who never had a chance to hear it - or their old tape has been lost or damaged long time ago, like mine was - could listen to it in a very good quality. 
Obviously you have to remember that the production of "Empire of Sin" is very raw and brutal, so do not expect a good quality in sense of perfectly polished, powerful production and fancy, spotless playing. The sound is rather typical for many old Polish death metal demos and it could have been better, sure. The production and the music have quite primitive, savage feel, but that's the whole charm of these old demos. And besides, raw, noisy sound doesn't affect these songs in a negative way. This is great obscure, yet brutal and vicious, evil sounding death metal, which did not avoid diversity in the music. There are faster, ferocious songs like “Necrophobic”, but also slower tracks like “The Birth of a New God”, with a doomy riff and violin, what obviously remind me the very early, most sinister sounding My Dying Bride a little. For even bigger diversity, every second song is a short instrumental piece, with acoustics or violin like “Requiem Aeternam”. Despite the whole archaic feel of “Empire of Sin”, I think it was a great pleasure to listen to this demo, again after all these years. 
CD comes with a booklet, where you’ll find all sort of information, photos, flyers, etc from Cenotaph’s past, so everything’s there as it should. A recommended release, in my opinion! 
Standout tracks: “Occultic Certificate”, “The Birth of a New God” 
Verdict: 70/100

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Archives of the Dead part XXXI - BODYBAG - Mutilated Beyond Recognition (Demo 1992)

Archives of the Dead part XXXI - BODYBAG - Mutilated Beyond Recognition (Demo 1992) 
Line up: Jimmy "The Typhoon" Littlefield (drums), Travis Dahmen (guitars), C.J. Mikiten (bass), Eric Flath (guitars), Mike Dexter (vocals)  
Recorded and mixed March 28 & 29, 1992 at Dogfish Sound, Newberg, Oregon.
Produced by Bodybag.
A couple of years ago I had a pleasure to write few words on the then newly discovered early 90's US death metal band from Oregon, called BodyBag. This demo was titled "Severed Existence", released in 1993, and was something I really enjoyed to listen to. So, I hoped to find also some other recordings from this band (in digital format of corpse, because original cassettes are impossible to find!).. and finally I also have found BodyBag's debut demo, which is 1992's "Mutilated Beyond Recognition" and I think that I like this shit even more! Damn, what a crushing, brutal piece of old styled death metal it is. Really killer! 
Six songs are here, with 25 minutes of music... and I can guarantee that if you're fan of the traditional US death metal and bands such as Massacre, Monstrosity, Baphomet, Morta Skuld, Obituary, then this shit is for you! Really fuckin well played music, with pretty solid production, especially for a debut demo of an unknown band! It sounds more professional than some full-length albums, in my opinion! Song writing is very good here, in my opinion better than on "Severed Existence" demo, because these songs have so many great riffs, but also good ideas, arrangements, vocals or diversity are all top notch. There's fast paced, as well as slow stuff, but everything's brutal and nasty just as it should. Even some Death's "Leprosy" traces could be found here and there, especially in "No Return", what means that the music is a bit technical, but first and foremost, it's about to crush your fuckin head with massive, vicious riffage.  
Really awesome stuff, I like every song from it and I am super amazed how well it all sounds. Even the fact that some songs are over six minutes long is not disturbing, because BodyBag knew how to use this time properly and create interesting songs. Sooo... what else could I add?! Absolutely killer demo and it's just a shame that such a good band is so little known. They were supposed to release a demo compilation CD few years ago, but it's still not out. I really hope though that it will be released one day, because this music needs more attention and recommendation, for me it's a forgotten death metal jewel. 
Verdict: 85/100

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Spectral Voice / Phrenelith - Split

At the time, when I was buying this split 7’EP I had not much clue about both of the bands participating on it. I was eager to get this piece of wax anyway, because they seemed like interesting newcoming acts and Dark Descent always knew where to look for killer, unknown death metal bands. Couple of years later Spectral Voice and Phrenelith have already released their debut full length albums and I think that they immediately became everyone’s favourites. Yes, definitely these are two hot names in the field of underground obscure death metal movement. And this split is not so easy to find anymore, so I am very happy that I bought it when it was still new.  
And what can I say... these bands were seriously good even before they did “Eroded Corridors of Unbeing” and “Desolate Endscape”. On this split 7” each band delivers one song, which is exclusive for this release and each really blows my head off with this filthy, mutilating death metal. Very downtuned, brutal, fast, yet with some massive slower parts to get more interesting and monstrous result, these are some wonderful tunes. Sure, the production is rather obscure, especially in Spectral Voice's song, but I would never say it's something what would have a negative influence on the music.  
Especially Phrenelith's "Once Fertile Soil" sounds powerful and really makes my ears bleed, when I play this track loud. Their riffs are fantastic, the atmosphere is really dark and sepulchral, which is something I like a lot. Only the vocals make me think that they were done without idea, just few grunts here and there to accompany the guitar wallMeanwhile Spectral Voice's "Peeled Veins" is faster, more brutal, nastier... but equally killer. In the end, I think, we get two absolutely fantastic songs from two great bands. And so, this split is just a must to have, in my opinion. And you better also get yourself a copy! 
Verdict: 85/100

Sunday, 25 November 2018

Angstridden - Fuck Humanity with Pride

ANGSTRIDDEN - Fuck Humanity with Pride (CRYPTIA Productions CD 2008)
Back in 2007 I received a letter with debut demo CDR from new Greek band called Angstridden and I remember that I fucking loved “Mutilators of Conscious”, as this is what this demo was titled. But soon I lost the band from sight, until few years later when I saw “Fuck Humanity with Pride” CD for some a price of one beer. So, I did not hesitate a second, bought it and I have to say that I still like Angstridden music a lot. Which is why I decided to write few words about them, because they’re very little known, but the music is awesome. 
Yeah.... but what can a band called Angstridden play? Angstridden is the title of one of Satyricon’s songs from their “Volcano” LP. And yes, this is a close shot, because Angstridden sounds fuckin a lot like mid-era Satyricon, but in much harsher way. I would also add Gehenna’s “WW”, Disiplin and even a bit og mid-era Behemoth to that source of influences. Everything with nasty, raw sound and more uncompromising style of playing. Now you may have some idea how does “Fuck Humanity with Pride” sound like. And believe me, this EP is great. I like Angstridden’s riffs, ideas they had for their music and that they do not waste time, but mostly rip through with fast, blasting mutilating black metal. This is vicious stuff, but interestingly, a lot of these riffs are quite catchy without losing its aggression and savagery. Which is how “Anti-Life” or “WW” sound like also, right? Angstridden may not play the most impressive thing, their music is also far from being very original, but I do enjoy it a lot. I also like that cold, inhuman, nihilistic atmosphere of it, plus the diversity - from ultra-blasting “New World'z Terrorizm” to the eight minutes long monolith “Subsonic Society”. 
Good EP then. It contains all songs from “Mutilators of Conscious” demo, but in new versions, so I feel very glad to have both releases in my collection. Now I need to find a copy of “Secta Nova” split.  
PS. Hey, Panzerfaust zine is there in the thanks list, which is always awesome to find! 
Standout tracks:Tyrant Syndikate 
Verdict: 75/100

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Aeternus - Dark Sorcery

AETERNUS - Dark Sorcery (HAMMERHEART - CD 1997)
If I was going to name Norwegian bands, with the most distinguished, original sound and style, then I would definitely mention Aeternus among them. They were (and still are, actually) completely different to all other bands from Norge and despite being formed in the golden era of Norwegian black metal, they never had much in common with the likes of GorgorothDarkthrone, Emperor or Immortal. Which did not prevent them from being an important part of the scene! And that makes me think why the hell it feels like they are so underrated and almost forgotten nowadays? 
Anyway, Aeternus music was always very original and interestingAnd it was such from their very first recording - which is amazing, I think! You could listen to a small part of their music and you'll immediately know that this is Aeternus playing, because there have never been another band, which would sound alike. I have to admit that I enjoy all Aeternus albums, but my favourites are those early recordings, especially "Dark Sorcery" EP, which is so fuckin awesome piece of music. Maybe one of the reasons why I enjoy it a bit more is the fact that it's a shorter recording (27 minutes of music on the Hammerheart digipack edition, which I own), so it is easier to get into. Aeternus music can sometimes feel a bit monotonous, as they often put songs through similar kind of slow-paced tempo, with that harsh, yet incredibly heavy riffage and monstrous, deep growl of Ares. So, it works the best on shorter recordings. And as such, "Dark Sorcery" is close to perfection, with no weak parts at all. 
Aeternus style of music is something between black metal - with that dark, very epic and monumental sound, slightly alike to bands such as Hades maybe, yet very different at the same time - and death metal, with that massive sound, overwhelming crushing heaviness and very deep growl of Ares, who sounds like he was summoning gods in the battlefield frenzy, not just "singing" some words. Riffs are quite special here, and I have to say that I love how Aeternus combines their heavy nature with a bit of majestic melody and sometimes even folky tunes. If you listen to these songs carefully then you will immediately recognize great potential and fantastic atmosphere, which this music brings. Yes, monumental, epic, war-like and truly destructive. It may feel slightly one dimensional in the beginning, but it's still very exciting and inspiring stuff, especially if you listen to such fantastic, thunderous tracks like "Raven and Blood" or "Victory". Their music has all these little details, like melodic bits, acoustic guitar parts, howling vocals, which gives even more impressive resultAbsolutely essential part of the Norwegian metal scene, in my opinion. So, if you don’t know them, then check Aeternus out now. 
Standout tracks: "Raven and Blood", "Victory" 
Verdict: 85/100

Isolated - Descent on the Cross

ISOLATED - Descent on the Cross (Self released demo CDR 2001)
This album would actually be pretty damn good, if only the production was better. But damn, the sound is crap! Thin guitars, everything’s so damn artificial, with quite weak sounding vocals and not even a small hint of powerful punch, which would knock you out... Like death metal should! But the songs are solid and with better, more meaty and crushing production they would work very well. 
Isolated were Polish death metal band, but to be honest I don't remember much about their history. I would have to dig out some old fanzines. I think they were mainly active in the early 00's, when they recorded "Descent on the Cross" (2001) and "Demonss Conclave" EP (2005). But they both were little noticed, I'm afraid. I only had a chance to hear the 2001’s material. And as I already mentioned, "Descent on the Cross" songs are not bad, if you like Vader or Decapitated. Or Deicide and Cannibal Corpse, then this shit is for you. Some absolutely great riffs, many good ideas and arrangements... This is brutal stuff, but well balanced between faster and slower parts, so from that point of view I don't really have anything bad to say. But the production and a lot of vocals killed the effect. Such a thin guitar sound and drums. And the vocals also sometimes are ruined. 
Anyway, I had not listened to this band in ages. So, I’m surprised that my old promo CDR is still playable and I could check Isolated again after all those years. It must be quite rare recording nowadays. It's not something I could really recommend, but if you dig very underground and obscure death metal releases, then you may like to check this shit out. 
Verdict: 55/100