Saturday, 26 January 2019

Vallenfyre - Splinters

Only couple of weeks ago I learned that Vallenfyre split up mid 2018, which is such a bloody shame in my opinion, because I considered them to be one of the best bands around these days. Well, one day everything will end, but this end came far too early in my opinion, especially that "Fear Those Who Fear Him" was released only few months earlier. Anyway, Vallenfyre left three fantastic records behind and their second LP "Splinters" is the one I like the most. This album is simply amazing and close to perfection, it definitely is my favourite work from Gregor Mackintosh, whether we speak of Vallenfyre or any Paradise Lost album he ever composed. 
And speaking of Paradise Lost, one just cannot ignore the fact that some songs on "Splinters" have a very strong influence from the early Paradise Lost albums. Basically every slower song, where you can hear a melodic line to accompany slow paced, doomy riff will immediately remind you about albums such as "Gothic". Which is fuckin awesome to hear, of corpse! Listen to "Bereft" as the best example for that. It's also my favourite song on "Splinters", pure perfection of old school doomy death metal, in my opinion. The riffs in it, melodic lines, vocal parts – everything sounds absolutely fantastic and there's only one song from Mackintosh, which is equally amazing and that's "Beneath Broken Earth" (best Paradise Lost song ever!). I have to say that the melodic side of "Splinters" is something I’m especially happy to hear. And the way Vallenfyre balanced this album between this with heavy, doomy style of death metal and faster, crusty, dirty style of metal is great too. This way the album is very dynamic, diverse and it contains many, many insanely good riffs. Vallenfyre may be taking influences from Paradise Lost, Autopsy, crust, punk and Swedish death metal (with the guitar tone insanely similar to the best Swedish sound)… They even lurk into the traditions of British grindcore with “Thirst for Extinction” and “Instinct Slaughter”! But the result is always absolutely wonderful. There’s no single song or fragment, which I wouldn’t like, or which would sound boring or like a filler to me . My favourite are these slower tracks, I love their heaviness, dark, sorrowful feel and memorable riffs. "Bereft", “Scabs” and “Aghast” are three master-fuckin-pieces. 
I also have to say how much I like Greg's growls, he sounds like a beast, and not a happy one for sure! But it's amazing how he found his passion to play such old school death metal, especially when you compare it to what Paradise Lost has been playing for so many years now. “Splinters” sounds already like a classic record and to be fair, it probably is the best thing to come from British death metal scene ever since the early 90’s. Fuckin mandatory album! 
Standout tracks: "Bereft", “Scabs”, “Aghast” 
Verdict: 95/100

Funeral Mist - Hekatomb

FUNERAL MIST - Hekatomb (NOEVDIA - LP 2018)
The phlegm of the holy mother... 
It's already been nine long years since the release of "Maranatha", so I did not even hope to see Funeral Mist's third opus in 2018. But it came out all of a sudden, so it was a great surprise and a very exciting one as well. I'm big fan of Arioch's previous works, especially "Devilry" and "Salvation", so I could not be happier to see "Hekatomb", which I bought on vinyl a.s.a.p. And what can I say... for me this is one of the best 2018 albums. it definitely is the best black metal LP, much better than Marduk's "Viktoria" for instanceSo, hats off, Arioch did it again! 
"Hekatomb" is a bit different to the previous Funeral Mist albums. First of all, it's not such a long record as its predecessors. It's ten minutes shorter than "Maranatha" and twenty minutes shorter than "Salvation". It works in benefit of "Hekatomb", in my opinion, as the content of the album is only of the best quality, with no signs of monotony or too long material. This way the album is also more straight forward, more uncompromising and memorable. And that is always good to hear. Interestingly, with shorter material, it also is more diverse and much better balanced, so it really managed to catch my attention immediately (unlike such "Maranatha", which did require many careful listens). That balance is very important and something what Funeral Mist has not done before - more slower songs, more atmospheric parts, but in proper proportions to the blasting, ferocious black metal, which this band is so well known for. As such, it reminds me Marduk's best effort "Rom 5:12" and both are equally, extremely killer albums. 
You won't find here a bad song. Whether you prefer extremely fast, vicious, blasting tracks (such as "In Nomine Domini") or slower pieces ("Naught but Death") - there's always a great quality and something interesting what will catch your attention. Arioch has a lot of inspiring ideas, his music has many fantastic additional details (such as a simple bell sounds or choral vocals), which makes it all sound even more interesting... Great arrangements, absolutely insane, possessed morbid vocals of Arioch (and his fantastic lyrics!!!), fast, precise drumming of Lars Broddesson (ex-Marduk) and top production of Endarker Studio. I have absolutely nothing wrong to say about this record. Obviously, I have my favourite songs here: they are "Metamorphosis", “Naught but Death” and “Hosanna", but as I already mentioned – I love the entire album with its sick, vicious, morbid atmosphere. Some may miss that chaotic, utterly savage and bestial aspect of “Salvation” here and I can understand that. But I like “Hekatomb” as it is. More memorable, but still brutal and violent. Definitely one of my favourite black metal albums in recent years. 
Standout tracks: "Metamorphosis", “Naught but Death”, "Hosanna" 
Verdict: 95/100

Skullcrush - Visions of the Firestorm Eclipse

SKULLCRUSH - Visions of the Firestorm Eclipse (RAW SKULL Rekordz CD 2018)
This band name suggests that your skull is going to be crushed when you listen to the album – and it seems to be quite accurate, I think. Skullcrush’s music definitely sounds like a skullcrushing motherfucker. First you will feel strongly deafened, then suddenly blood will start to flow from your ears, giving you also terrible head ache. Soon more liquids will flow from nose and eyes, taking away all senses from you... And finally a crushing riff will turn your head into a horrid pulp of brain, skin and bones. Not a nice view, but Skullcrush music is not nice at all! Which means it is great haha! So, come on death metal bangers! 
Yeah. "Visions of the Firestorm Eclipse" is first recording from this American band and it’s definitely a solid start. I like the savagery and brutality of their music, as well as raw, harsh sound, because it has brutal, underground, dark feeling, which is often so missed among current death metal recordings. This stuff sounds nasty and obscure, so do not expect it to be nice! Skullcrush does incorporate few melodic lines here and there, especially in slower, doomy parts - and the result it definitely a good one, but their music is mostly focused on brutal, quite mid to fast paced vicious death metal, such as "Spectacle of Suffering", the opening song, which is a manifestation of sheer violence and aggression. And it's the best song here, especially with these beastly vocals. With "Mists of Blood" Skullcrush continues their caveman death metal, but the tempo slows down a bit and everything gets even more heavy. This is a solid song and towards its end there's one absolutely fantastic melodic riff - a real standout of this demo, in my opinion. Finally "Hellwater" delivers some killer doomy riffs, which does work for me perfectly, and this is another my favourite fragment of "Visions...". And frankly, I would hope to hear more such stuff from SkullcrushThis CD contains only about 20 minutes of music, but I have to say that it’s been an enjoyable effort and a recommendable release. 
And the only thing I don't like about "Visions of the Firestorm Eclipse" is the artwork, with Conan the Barbarian on it, it just doesn't fit in my opinion. But that is not something what would have any importance to me, anyway. So, give a listen to Skullcrush and enjoy this death metal filth!!! Good stuff! 
Standout tracks: "Spectacle of Suffering", “Hellwater 
Verdict: 70/100

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Archives of the Dead part XXXII - Epitaph - Demo 1991

Archives of the Dead part XXXII - Epitaph - Demo 1991 
Line up: Mark Good (bass), Kevin Astl (drums), Tony Teegarden (guitars, vocals), Scott Senokossoff (guitars) 
Recorded at Morrisound Studios, 1991. Produced by Tom Morris and Epitaph. 
Wanna read about another crushing US death metal demo from the early 90's and band, which only very few people remember (I think)? Here's it is. The band is called Epitaph, which is a very unfortunate name, considering how many other Epitaphs there were. These guys were from Florida and if you look at their line up, you can spot names, which can also be found in Cynic (Tony Teegarden) and Resurrection (Mark Good and Kevin Astl had an episode there).  
So, a classic Floridian death metal? This is exactly what Epitaph was. And more so, they were just fantastic. This demo from 1991 sounds killer. Epitaph recorded it at the infamous Morrisound, so the sound quality is great, it sounds professional, super tight and brutal. And stylistically it sounds like a combination of Death and Obituary, to describe it as simply as possible. They had the melody and bit of twisted riffage from "Spiritual Healing" combined with the heaviness and brutality of "Cause of Death". Very well played, technically this demo sounds nothing like a beginning band. I especially like the bass work, which does not allow you to forget about its existence for the entire demo and plays many great parts. The drummer also plays tight and precise. There's a bit of thrashing feel here and there, which can remind you also bands such as Demolition Hammer or Solstice, so generally this is a super, super fuckin awesome stuff. I could not believe that it's so little known, when I played it for the first time it blew my head off right away. Three songs, 13 minutes of music, but what a joy to listen to it. I'm glad that I've found this demo. 
Oh, John Tardy did some guest vocals in one of these songs. 
Verdict: 80/100