Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Embrace of Thorns - The Pantheon I

EMBRACE OF THORNS - The Pantheon I (IRON BONEHEAD - 7"EP 2022)

There are certain bands, which I am always eager to hear every time they do new recordings. Embrace of Thorns belongs to this group for sure. They're not only my favourite Greek band (at least together with Dead Congregation), but also one, which never disappointed me and I can honestly say that every album from them is a killer. At the moment I’m waiting for the new LP, titled "Entropy Dynamics", but it's been announced with the 7"EP "The Pantheon I", which I have been listening to extensively for some time now. You don't need to ask me how I like it, because the answer can be only one. But I will use an opportunity to give a brief description of the content and just add a couple of sentences about how I feel about these two tracks. 

So, the title track comes on side A and it can be a little misleading song, if you know what Embrace of Thorns has been mostly delivering. And I don’t think also that this song would be a referring point to “Entropy Dynamics”. I am guessing it’s an outtake from “Scorn Aesthetics”, recorded more or less at the same time, back in 2017. What can surprise a little its rather slow paced death / black metal with a strong melodic touch here and there, something what Embrace of Thorns is not that well known. Although they did songs like “Reducto Ad Absurdum” before and you can definitely put "The Pantheon I" right next to it, I think. Swapping their trademark bestial black metal savagery from the sound for something more monumental and melodic didn’t affect the music in negative way at all. It still sounds insanely dark and powerful; it still has aggression and ferocious characteristics and personally I don’t have anything against such slower songs. Actually, I think it sounds excellent. Yes, it is very different to such “Praying for Absolution”, but damn good anyway. 

If the title song was something quite unusual from the trademark Embrace of Thorns sound and style, then “Awakening of the Elder Warlocks” is more traditional for the band, more in the vein of the old albums. It's harsh, ravaging and fast black metal onslaught. The song is fierce and aggressive, morbid and raw, just exactly what you normally expect to hear from this band. I think that the songwriting has developed hugely from their beginning, it’s more developed, song is more structured... but it holds the same values.  

I have no idea then if the new album will more in the vein of side A or side B. I am sure it’s going to be great, so I am waiting. And I will give "The Pantheon I” many more spins. 

Verdict: 85/100

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Damage Case - Heavy Metal Sacrifice

DAMAGE CASE - Heavy Metal Sacrifice (PUTRID CULT - CD 2022)

WTF?!!! It's weird that I've never heard anything about Damage Case before I got their "Heavy Metal Sacrifice" album. Or maybe I did, but I simply do not remember it? Who knows. It turns out that this Polish project has been active for maaanyy years now and this is their fourth full length. I will not even count some demos that were done in the mid 00's! Well, I am never ignorant, but I just have no idea how this band passed unnoticed. But I am glad that "Heavy Metal Sacrifice" spins in my stereo, because it's really cool album. 

And to describe the music, I will just mention one band. VEEENNNOOOMMMMMM. Fuck, this music screams Venom in every second of the album. OK, there's also Motorhead (obviously the name came from their song, am I right?), Sodom, Sabbat, Darkthrone (from the recent albums obviously). Even Bathory debut is in this music. But the majority of riffs as well as the vocals manner, lyrics, atmosphere of the music are very much Venom influenced. And Damage Case sounds great. I really mean that. It doesn't matter that some of these riffs are cut and paste from Newcastle and you probably have heard it all on "Welcome to Hell" or "Black Metal". Or albums from bands I mentioned above. "Heavy Metal Sacrifice" sounds incredibly fun and cool. All these songs are catchy, there are fantastic riffs and choruses to sing along and it's brilliant how well Damage Case reincarnated the archaic atmosphere of primeval black / thrash or whatever metal was done in the early 80's. Forty years later these two guys captured the essence of this music. Sure, nowadays you could hear that also in Midnight or Darkthrone too. But Damage Case is good too. Oh, I would also mention another Polish band, Warfist, for that company. It doesn’t matter though who or what. I just likle “Heavy Metal Sacrifice”. Songs like the title track, “Midnight Sin” or "Priest on Electric Chair" are infectious like black'n'roll should be, but my favourite track is the last one, the slowest and most evil of them all, "Season of the Witch" - very cool track! Just check it out yourself and get infected with it! 

Verdict: 79/100

Monday, 28 November 2022

Cadaveric Possession - Vortex of Undying Hatred

CADAVERIC POSSESSION - Vortex of Undying Hatred (PUTRID CULT - CD 2022)

Cadaveric Possession has been around for few years now, bringing forth a couple albums and splits since the inception. I think that I’ve heard their “Sephirothic Desiccation" EP only, I never paid much attention to this project, to be honest, for no special reasons other than “too many bands, too much music and the day is too short to know them all”. Anyway, I just got the latest album titled "Vortex of Undying Hatred", which is an opportunity to learn a bit more about Cadaveric Possession music. Also, to write this short review. Here we go then. 

And well, I think that "Vortex of Undying Hatred" is pretty mediocre, yet fairly enjoyable piece of... well, let's just say old school, archaic and insanely harsh sounding metal. There are influences from old black metal bands mostly, but heavy metal too, both from late 80's / early 90's. Especially the primeval black metal scene must have had a huge impact on how Cadaveric Possession music sounds like and their riffs, because they have that similar dark, obscure atmosphere as well as the raw, kind of primitive feel. I often have problems with young bands, which play that sort of music, because too often they sound just lame and have absolutely nothing to offer, except from having the “evil and old school sound and image”. In that matter Cadaveric Possession sounds more convincing and interesting, even if I am far from screaming while on bent knees. I'd rather listen to bands such as Possession (from Belgium), whose music is insanely soaked with savagery and morbidity and have that insane energy, which fills every sound. Cadaveric Possession is nothing alike to them, but their music can work too. As I mentioned, it’s a solid band, which in certain circumstances can bring some fun to the listener, so once in a while I can give them a listen. 

Verdict: 65/100

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Toughness - The Prophetic Dawn

TOUGHNESS - The Prophetic Dawn (GODZ OV WAR - CD 2022)

Another new band has recently risen from the abyss of Polish death metal, serving us their first full album titled „The Prophetic Dawn”. I'm not sure what all these prophecies are about (band's demo was called simply "Prophecy", by the way...), but I am sure it won't be predicting mankind bright, happy days. At least this is how such music can make you feel, with its savage and brutal sound embraced in dark, gloomy atmosphere. Don't you worry, though, I am sure that every death metal maniac will welcome these "prophecies" with joy, because the music from Toughness sounds pretty awesome, I dare to say. 

After the first listen, Toughness didn't really impress me, I felt that their square simple sometimes, primeval riffage is not quite as good and the whole album is just a bit boring. Hmm, obviously I spent few more hours with „The Prophetic Dawn” before doing this review and every next listen was working in advantage for the band. It's nothing extraordinary nor the most impressive of all death metal I heard this year, but a solid and worthy album for sure. What I like about Toughness is that their music has a nice combination of the old school death metal, which certainly lurks deep into the Finnish scene (Demilich comes often in comparisons, but damn, what about such Funebre?), but also takes full grasps of influence from such Incantation?! And it also comes close to some young American bands, such as Ossuarium, Tomb Mold, Coffin Rot, Sewercide, Fetid and such. 

I am not sure obviously, if Toughness fellas have any idea about bands I just mentioned, but their morbid riffage, harsh, brutal sound and slow, crushing tempo is up my street and comes close to bands I mentioned. Blasts do appear as well, but they're few and rather short, this is not Krisiun, you know?! Songwriting and arrangements can still feel a bit sloppy sometimes, other time the music can sound a bit chaotic (“Other Insalubrious Beings”), especially with this harsh production. But it has its charm. Besides, you need to notice that Toughness tries sometimes to come out of the usual death metal box with some almost progressive parts, broken rhythms or with the whole bad ass bass guitar work, which definitely stands out. So, it can sound a bit more unique here and there and maybe this is why „The Prophetic Dawn” required few more spins before I could give it an opinion. Now I can say that this is a very promising band. 

Verdict: 70/100

Scalpture - Panzerdoktrin

SCALPTURE - Panzerdoktrin (FINAL GATE Records - CD 2016)

Old school death metal, which Scalpture plays on their debut album "Panzerdoktrin" is absolutely nothing new. Neither is the concept of the lyrics, which deals with the world war, tanks and all that machinery of death we know from countless other bands and albums. But it doesn't have to be original, if it's quality music. And damn, definitely "Panzerdoktrin" is a great and fun album, I always take a lot of pleasure from the listening sessions of it. 

I suppose that if I mentioned old school death metal together with the war themes, you will immediately think of the Bolt Thrower / Asphyx / Hail of Bullets / Humiliation type of death metal. And you will definitely be right about that. These bands must have had an enormous influence on Scalpture, together with the great Swedish death metal scene, with bands such as Paganizer, Facebreaker, Just Before Dawn and so on. Put all these names together and you will get the musical content of "Panzerdoktrin" described perfectly. As I mentioned, it is nothing new and the music is rather predictable and obvious, but I do enjoy it anyway. Scalpture serves us a bunch of great songs on this debut CD, all filled with punchy, aggressive and memorable riffs, which infects the listener from the very beginning. It's kind of a record, which will easily get into your head, it's hooky and yet brutal. It's not too technical or fancy, it's just plain, old school death metal, which focuses on both heaviness and aggression, as it does on melody and sort of groove. And I really like that combination, where some riffs are like a heavy cannonade, bloodthirsty artillery looking for crushing devastation and other time the music becomes a bit more epic and mournful. "Panzerdoktrin" is very well balanced in that aspect, so every song really stand out. What I like also is that there’s around 35 minutes of music on the album, so it goes very fast and never starts to bore the listener. And once the cannonade is over, you start to play it all over again, because you want more. You have no other choice, if there are such killer songs like “Flattened Horizons (Pounding Howitzers)” or “Embrace the Afterglow”. 

Summing it all up, it’s a very good debut album from Scalpture. Honestly, I didn’t know it at the time of its release, first time I’ve heard of it was when Scalpture joined FDA Rekords and did “Eisenzeit”, but it’s better late than never. And I have to say that “Eisenzeit” is also a crushing piece of death metal, I truly love that album too, so if you’d want to jump in the Great War trenches and breath yperite, get that album too. Scalpture is a really strong, impressive band, in my opinion. 

Verdict: 85/100

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Morbid Stench - The Rotting Ways of Doom

MORBID STENCH - The Rotting Ways of Doom (PUTRID CULT - CD 2022)

Five years ago I’ve reviewed “The Stench of Doom” demo and later in 2021 I did a “Doom & Putrefaction” review. Both of them were releases from Costa Rican / El Salvador band called Morbid Stench. For the last three days I have been giving an extensive listening session to “The Rotting Ways of Doom”, their second album, and you know what? This is one of the finest doom / death metal albums you will hear in a long time, I can assure you. The debut CD was brilliant and this new record is just equally killer, maybe even better. I have almost not enough words to describe the positive feeling this album gives me, but I am really impressed with the work of this band. 

And you know what? There are obviously quite few fantastic doom / death metal bands around these days, some of them, like Hooded Menace or Temple of Void, became quite popular in the extreme metal underground, some others like God Disease, Solothus, Innumerable Forms, Mortiferum are right there behind, also getting quite a good attention. Meanwhile Morbid Stench seems a little lesser known, but I think their music may be even the best from all these bands I mentioned. Seriously, this new album is fantastic, especially if you think of the more exotic origin of Morbid Stench. You don’t think of Costa Rica, when speak of killer death metal, right? Hats off then to Morbid Stench. 

Going through “The Rotting Ways of Doom”, I have to say that it’s a complete album. Everything that have been recorded for it sounds great, there’s not even a single second of music, which would feel dull or useless, from start to finish this is a monumental, crushing death / doom perfection. First of all, the production is powerful, so energetic that every riff have a great strength and really kicks ass. These riffs are memorable, doomy and heavy, but there are also many harmonies, which gives a darker, more sorrowful aura. I like how well arranged the music is, song structures and ideas are not revolutionary for the genre, but are just very good and interesting anyway, so each of these six tracks has something special and deserves attention. My favourite songs are probably “Estuary of Relics”, “Iconoclast Reverbations” and “Ekleipsis”, I believe. Which are yours? I am now looking forward for the vinyl edition of “The Rotting Ways of Doom”, which should be released in the mid 2023. I the meantime, CD won’t leave the player that soon. 

Verdict: 90/100

Profanity Angel - Holy Thrones Abolition

PROFANITY ANGEL - Holy Thrones Abolition (PUTRID CULT - CD 2022)

It's been a while (four years to be exact) since I've listened to Profanity Angel's split CD with Incinerator, but I am glad that they are back with another recording. What we're getting this time is EP titled "Holy Thrones Abolition" - so, again not a full album, but I don't think it's a problem at all, especially when the music gives such a powerful kick. 

These Poles continue what was started on "Execration of the Holy Spirit" split, which is fast, ferocious and insanely bestial black / death metal. Without further ado Profanity Angel performs a carefully planned, massed attack with damn heavy, intense cannonade of riffs adorned with a (great) raw, but relatively transparent production. They do not take prisoners. They do not really care for having any melodic or more memorable parts. "Holy Thrones Abolition" is a pure sonic annihilation. And I love it. Profanity Angel really does everything perfectly for this style of music, there's that lethal energy coming from every sound, there's that evil, sacrilegious atmosphere, which embraces the whole music. Riffs are fantastic. Musicianship is great, I like the drumming, vocals sound brilliant as well. I don’t need anything else. 

This music may sound primitive and chaotic, but when done properly it can really impress. And that is exactly what I feel when I listen to Profanity Angel. It's a short recording, but these twenty minutes are enough to convince about how good "Holy Thrones Abolition" is. With the “repeat" button on, I think I've given this CD at least twenty spins and I would like more. Let's hope it won't take that long for these guys to record another opus then. 

Verdict: 80/100

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Forlorn In Silence - Forlorn In Silence

FORLORN IN SILENCE - Forlorn In Silence (MOURNFUL SILENCE - 7"EP 2001)

I think that this is one of the most unknown and enigmatic releases, which I have in my collection. This 7”EP came from a Norwegian band called Forlorn In Silence and was released around 2001. I think I got it directly from the band, together with their demo CDR “As the Silence Once Again Rises”, but it’s been so long ago that I don’t remember much from those days. Anyways, I did like it enough to make interview for one of the old Panzerfaust zine issues. To be honest, I have not listened to this band in ages, but why not take a chance and introduce them now to all those, who will read these few sentences? You may find it interesting, because Norwegian black metal has always been very popular and as I already mentioned Forlorn In Silence is known to very, very few people, I believe. 

Well, let’s hope that short review will encourage you to get this small piece of black wax (from Discogs only, probably). This EP is very cool, in my opinion. Sure, it may sound a bit archaic nowadays, especially the production is lacking a lot (more depth, more bass, more audible guitars), but damn, it’s a twenty years old recording! Musically it is an atmospheric black metal, in the vein of early Dimmu Borgir, Gehenna, Ulver, Forlorn and such bands. Rather slower tempo, epic, monumental riffing, a strong keyboard sound (sadly, with rather poor production, these keyboards are just too damn loud, for my taste), screaming vocals, kind of epic, mournful atmosphere... The music may sound a bit monotonous, which is why the side B song “Trapped in Darkness” is a bit better, more varied, with acoustic guitar, a bit of blasting drums... but both songs are cool. It’s nothing new, nothing what other bands haven’t done earlier and better. Still, Forlorn In Silence is good enough to catch my attention and it’s almost a shame that they haven’t done anything after this 7” and “As the Silence” demo were released. I really have enjoyed this EP today, I played it seven or eight times and it was just a great time. Later I will play “As the Silence Once Again Rises” too (I do hope that the old CDR still plays hah), so... 

By the way, I wondered what happened to all those people involved in Forlorn in Silene and it seems that the mainman behind this project, Adhramalech, is still doing some black metal, most recently in the band called I Sorg (under the name Ramnsvarturh), which I will try to check sometime. 

Verdict: 80/100

There's the old interview I did with the band for my old fanzine too, in Polish, so don't ask for translation, I am too lazy to do that now. Old times!