Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Nox - Blood, Bones and Ritual Death

NOX - Blood, Bones and Ritual Death (LISTENABLE - CD 2010)
Yesterday I wrote few words about "Ixaxaar" by Nox. And now I want to go back to this band and shortly introduce you another excellent CD from them, which is "Blood, Bones and Ritual Death". Shortly, because this is only an EP, so there's not much material on it, but damn, what a killer content and quality is there!!! 
First off, I like the production of "Blood, Bones and Ritual Death" a lot. It's clean, yet crispy and insanely powerful what adds even more fire to already vicious and aggressive music. There are four songs and each is an instant killer with characteristic intensity and sheer venomous atmosphere, which blows head off. And which you should all be familiar with if you know Centurian and "Ixaxaar". Nox music is fast, savage, but filled with many amazing riffs, great vocals (new vocalist Niels Adams did fantastic job here) and all these sweet details, which create an interesting and high class death metal. In many ways, this EP is like Deicide or Vital Remains, but sometimes even better than anything these two bands have done since the mid 90's. Yeah, these four tracks are like a fuckin slaughter – no remorse, no time wasted for fillers. And with two instrumental tracks and their sick, evil atmosphere "Blood, Bones and Ritual Death" is a perfect EP. For me this is one of the best efforts from Centurian / Nox camp. 
Standout track: "From Hell to Worse" 
Verdict: 85/100 

Monday, 18 February 2019

Nox - Ixaxaar

NOX - Ixaxaar (WICKED WORLD Rec - CD 2007)
In case you don’t know, Nox is Centurian. It's almost the same band, which was formed when some major line up changes occurred in Centurian after "Liber Zar Zax" was unleashed. Both Wim van der Valk and Jerry Brouwer have left, so Rob Oorthuis decided to change the band name and Nox was born! Interestingly, this album was recorded with Seth van de Loo and Patrick Boleij, also two ex Centurian members. But aside with this soap opera, it’s awesome that these changes never had negative impact on the music and Nox's debut album "Ixaxaar" is just as great as all Centurian works. 
Stylistically it's pretty much in the same vein, so if you worship that intense and insanely fast death metal from Centurian, then Nox and "Ixaxaar" are right up your street as well. Maybe not exactly the same, because there is a small difference in few aspects - but the general idea is the same. And the result is neckbreaking, fast as hell, vicious and incredibly intense satanic death metal. Intensity of this music is so huge that there's almost no time to take breath between all these cannonades of drums and violent, aggressive guitars. I suppose many will see such almost one-dimensional type of playing as something negative... Well, if the music is so powerful and relentless as "Ixaxaar" then I see no problem. But I guess that I would love to hear more such crushing fragments like the opening part of "Intoxicated with Death", which is the only real slow fragment of the whole album - and rather quickly it's gone and everything is back to normal with furious blasting. Riffage seems to sound quite more modern, I think, surprisingly I sometimes have a feeling like there were some similarities to death metal era Behemoth (opening riff for "Choronzonic Chaos Gods" for instance). But obviously bands such as Vital Remains, Morbid Angel, Angel Corpse did have a strong impact as well. 
Anyway, the music sounds fantastic, in my opinion. I love its sheer violence and brutality, that energy which bursts from every sound and satanic, vicious atmosphere of it. This music is savage! It's also quite technical, I think, but the intensity, fast tempo and technicality go in hand with good songwriting and some memorable parts, so it's nothing like useless, forgettable tech death metal crap. Basically, there's nothing what has been done wrong. I only don't get the idea for the “Ixaxaar” booklet, where everything is reversed (mirrored lyrics, etc) and the band photo cuts Nox's members heads. What is this concept about?! Never had time to think through about that deeply. 
Standout tracks: "Intoxicated with Death", “Blind Mad God” 
Verdict: 80/100 

Eucharist - A Velvet Creation

EUCHARIST - A Velvet Creation (WOLFSBANE Records LP 2018)
Eucharist has never actually belonged to my favourite death metal bands from Sweden and I admit that I've been listening to their two CDs very, very rarely. They never represented my most favourite sound of Swedish death metal. But I'm quite glad that I recently had a chance to refresh "A Velvet Creation", which is Eucharist's 1993 debut album. It's been years since I have listened to it last time, but it actually stood the test of time pretty well and I sincerely enjoyed this album after all these years. No idea why I liked it now more than before. 
But the reason why I even had a chance to refresh "A Velvet Creation" to myself is the newest vinyl edition of this album, which recently has been unleashed by Wolfsbane Records from The Netherlands. I have to say they did splendid job. OK, there's new front artwork, which is something what some of you may not like. I too often don't like when they change covers of old albums on their newest reissues. But in this case, I like this new artwork, so I have no problem with it. The vinyl quality is awesome. Heavy record, solid cover, great layout, with few huge old band photos, a 4-page booklet with the lyrics... It all looks great and absolutely proper for such reissue. It is definitely more interesting to your eye than the previous LP version from Regain, which was rather poor (but it had the original artwork and band photo haha). 
Musically, I was kind of sceptical if "A Velvet Creation" had survived the test of time, if it sounds a bit outdated... But it doesn't! I actually enjoy it now more than few years ago (maybe should blame the vinyl charm for it... nothing better to spin a black wax, right?!). Stylistically we have here melodic death metal from Sweden; one, which you can easily put right next to "Lunar Strain", "The Red in the Sky Is Ours", "Skydancer" and other early melodic albums from Sverige. I think we can all agree that it's been quite characteristic style of death metal, but it's awesome that each of these bands sounded a bit different - despite similarities they shared. It's no other with Eucharist. For instance, one of the things, which I think extinguish Eucharist is the fact that their music was a bit harsher, more aggressive, with quite few fast parts through the whole record. And their type of melodies was not so catchy and enchanting as In Flames' for instance. They sounded darker, more sinister - which is something I obviously like a lot. Maybe sometimes it sounds a bit sloppy, but damn, "A Velvet Creation" does have its great moments. Especially in songs like “March of Insurrection”, when they combine that dark harmony with solid, aggressive and fast to mid paced death metal, perfectly corresponding with the vicious, screaming type of vocals from Markus Johnsson. And there are many more great parts on the album. It's not necessarily easily memorable, but vicious and harsh, yet melodic stuff. 
One thing, which works against "A Velvet Creation" the most is probably the production of the album, which really could have been better. There's no real heaviness and power to it, guitars sound a bit thin, more bass would be nice to hear as well. When compared to the tight production of "Lunar Strain" you can really hear the difference. But let’s be honest – this album was recorded by kids! You shouldn’t expect so much from them. How old were they, when “A Velvet Creation” was recorded?! Seventeen, I think?! But if you listen to the quality of instrumentation, songwriting, the ideas they had for the song structures, arrangements and everything else – wow, that’s something absolutely fantastic for such ageso, let’s just take “A Velvet Creation” for what it is – pretty solid and fine early example for Swedish melodic death metal. Check then this newest vinyl edition, I think it is absolutely worth it. Recommended. 
Standout tracks: “March of Insurrection”, “Floating” 
Verdict: 80/100 

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Mortuous - Through Wilderness

MORTUOUS - Through Wilderness (DAWNBREED Records LP 2018)
A calm, beautiful tone of acoustic guitar opens this album... but do not let it fool you, as this calmness in Mortuous music will not last for long and soon a proper carnage of old school genuine death metal shall begin. Although Mortuous do allow themselves to incorporate few more melodic fragments, most of their music is focused on massively heavy, vicious death metal riffage with good balance between blasting, crushing stuff and more doomy, slow paced bulldozers. And it sounds absolutely fantastic. Already their previous effort "Among the Lost" made a huge impression on me, I allowed myself to give it a very high score in the review I did back in 2015. "Through Wilderness" basically extends everything into "better" and "more impressive", to become one of my favourite albums of recent months. And if you call yourself a death metal worshipper, you should know you cannot miss this record! 
Firstly, you will get hit by a savagery of "Beyond Flesh", which is one of the fastest and most relentless songs on the album. But already this song will show you that Mortuous music is far from being one dimensional, as together with blasting parts there are slow paced crushing riffs and very melodic, memorable lead. And the whole album is as such... Incantation-esque brutality with faster and slower songs, mixed up with the Autopsy filthiness, Asphyx and Bolt Thrower majesty, doom / death metal and Swedish death metal harmonies. I value highly the songwriting of "Through Wilderness", filled killer riffs, great arrangements, very good vocals and instrumentation. This album is utterly old school and sounds like an early 90's masterpiece, in my opinion. If was released back then, you all would praise it as much as you praise "Dreams of the Carrion Kind", "Cause of Death" or "Mortal Throne of Nazarene". These guys just know exactly how to use their influences properly and have enough ideas and talent to turn them into something exceptional. And fresh, because it may be old school, traditional death metal, but it doesn't sound tired or repetitive. It's fresh and passionate.  It doesn't re-discover the genre's rules and whatever, but everything is done here in best possible way. I love the brutality, the heaviness - like for instance when "Bitterness" hits you with these doomy riffs, which could easily crush the walls in your apartment, if you play the music loud. Obviously, I already mentioned that Mortuous never stays on one side of the road, so in this song they will also grind you with neckbreaking speed and ferocious aggression. And melody is there as well! Soooo goood!!! Speaking of the melody and doom / death metal, for me "Chrysalis of Sorrow" is the best song on the album, just because it delivers the classic doom / death in the vein of Decomposed or Ceremonium in such a brilliant way. Also, the ending part of "Subjugation of Will" is something I have to mention, as it's absolutely fantastic.  
Fuck, they even got two Autopsy members to get more interesting effect  so good to hear Chris Reifert's vomits! Yeah, it seems like anything Mortuous touches, it turns into rotten fuckin gold. I absolutely love this band. 
This vinyl was released through Dawnbreed Records, in nice gatefold with all the stunning, obscure artwork. This is European LP version, there’s also slightly different US LP version from Tankcrimes Records (released on my B-day... coincidence?!)... choose whichever you please, but do not hesitate to buy this amazing album. 
Standout tracks: "Chrysalis of Sorrow", "Bitterness", "Subjugation of Will" 
Verdict: 90/100