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Monday, February 29, 2016

McDeath - Lord of the Thrash

Artist: McDeath
Release Title: Lord of the Thrash
Year: 2015
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Thrash Metal
1. Baptized in Black
2. Reborn
3. Lord of the Thrash
4. Evil Lyn
5. Metal Diplomacy
6. The Wytchhunter
7. Stronger Than All
8. Through Hell
9. Pale Grey Sky
10. Kingdom of the Dead

The second full-length from German thrashers McDeath shows that their near-decade gap between releases hasn’t slowed down their engaging energy or infectious attitude at all. Opting more in keeping with the Bay Area style than their traditional German brethren, that stylish crunch and explosive rhythms carry the majority of the work here culminating in pummeling rhythms, utterly frantic riff-work and pounding drumming that continues weaving in the odd technical pattern along the way which helps this out tremendously. It takes a strong sense of energy throughout here by adding in the kind of rather frantic rattling rhythms that feature alongside the kind of up-tempo patterns present here, and for the most part this is wholly addictive and energetic style thrash that doesn’t really generate any kind of truly obvious flaw present here. They misfire gigantically with their slow-paced ballad-like effort placed in the second half but this is still truly fun and enjoyable for the most part.

The first half here is a solid introduction to things here. First track ‘Baptized in Black’ uses a melancholy acoustic-driven intro that turns into a raging up-tempo series of driving drum-work and scalding riffing augmented by plenty of dynamic rhythms and pounding drumming with scattered melodic leads throughout the solo section into the charging final half for a stellar opening blast. ‘Reborn’ takes thumping rhythms and absolutely stellar riffing pounding along with the furious drumming into a frantic up-tempo pace full of dexterous drumming and tight, energetic riff-work keeping this one blazing along through the solo section and into the fine finale for another strong thrashing effort. The thrashing title track features blistering thrash rhythms and pounding drumming raging through utterly frantic paces littered with scorching riffs and plenty of rather energetic patterns keeping the thrashing up-tempo with dynamic riffing charging through the solo section and into the full-throttle final half for a truly blistering highlight. ‘Evil Lyn’ starts with a furious burst of up-tempo riffing and energetic drumming blasting through a scorching up-tempo series of rhythms full of pounding drumming and steady riff-work bringing along the rather fiery solo section and leading into the furious finale for a solid raging thrasher. ‘Metal Diplomacy’ uses a sampled intro that turns into a steady mid-tempo groove with the fine thrashing rhythms alongside with the energetic riffing and pounding drumming keeping this moving along firmly in the mid-tempo range with plenty of charging grooves through the solo section and into the final half for a fine if somewhat lackluster effort.

The second half here is much like the first half. ‘The Wytchhunter’ takes rattling riff-work and dynamic drumming through the stuttering, mid-tempo rhythms with dynamic, charging riffing throughout the more up-tempo paces featured throughout with the pounding drumming leading into the solo section and through the surging finale for a slightly more enjoyable offering. ‘Stronger Than All’ features blistering drumming and raging technical thrashing riff-work surging through the blistering tempos with the rhythms keeping the energy up before dropping off slightly into plodding mid-section solo leading back into the raging final half for another strong, enjoyable effort. ‘Through Hell’ blazes through raging tempos with pounding drumming, intense riff-work and plenty of dynamic rhythms with the stellar up-tempo rhythms carrying the twisting riffing alongside the dynamic rattling patterns chugging along into the solo section and into the charging finale for a blistering thrasher. Their epic ‘Pale Grey Sky’ features a melancholic intro that slowly grows into a steady mid-tempo feel with laid-back rhythms and steady drumming slowly growing into a mid-paced charger with a melodic charge through the solo section leaving the melodies at the fore-front through the final half for a decidedly disappointing effort. Finally, ‘Kingdom of the Dead’ opens with a blistering serie of twisting mid-tempo rhythms with rattling drum-work alongside charging riff-work taking the intense rhythms along into the heavy, thumping grooves leading into the mid-tempo charging of the solo section leading along into the frantic finale to end this one on a truly high note.

This here proved to be quite the engaging and truly enjoyably thrash efforts here with plenty to like here that makes for an enjoyable effort in the genre in the first place, making this quite effective at delivering the goods for old-school thrash fans or devout revival aficionados alike who should eat this up immediately.

Score: 95/100

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Dauden (Nor) - My Soul Will Be Damned Forever

Artist: Dauden (Nor)
Release Title: My Soul Will Be Damned Forever
Year: 2015
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Black Metal
1. My Soul Will Be Damned Forever
2. Akem Manah
3. With No Presence of God
4. God Did Not Create Us
5. Suicidal Seduction
6. Where Light Touches None
7. The Sign of the Goat

The debut full-length from the Norwegian black metal group Dauden is a strong and enjoyable if not very original take on classic second-wave Norwegian black metal. It’s pretty much paint-by-numbers style work throughout here, with the brimstone-soaked tremolo pattern riff-work giving this a decidedly strong touch of atmospheric flavor that comes from the old-school style of black metal played in that original grouping, blastbeat-driven drumming that allows for the utterly dexterous and smooth tempo changes from utterly frantic and chaotic driving rhythms to the more prominent mid-tempo gallops that are featured here which allows the riffing to vary according to those rhythms, it’s all quite expected to be featured here in these kinds of acts and really isn’t all that innovative. That, though, tends to be quite easily overlooked here with the simple fact that the band's history has allowed them to pull off this kind of material with a conviction and energy that’s quite lacking in many similar acts who run through the motions. The songwriting dynamics on display of allowing these pretty lengthy and absorbed tracks to remain consistently enjoyable and engaging with the kind of varied tempo shifts and variations to be found here that makes for a much more enjoyable listen. It’s still pretty cliche, but there’s a lot more to like here which does raise this somewhat.

The first half here is a very strong indicator of what’s to be expected here. Opening with the title track that takes a straightforward intense series of buzzing tremolo-picked patterns and plenty of blasting drumming with dexterous strikes running along at a steady frantic pace with plenty of furious up-tempo tremolo-picked patterns carrying the steady rhythms along into the final half for a stellar opening track. ‘Akem Manah’ uses clattering drumming and buzzing tremolo patterns with plenty of frenetic drumming with the tight swirling tremolo rhythms carrying the blasting up-tempo paces along with a few minor melodic flurries from the riff-work that drops off for the charging finale for another strong, enjoyable offering. ‘With No Presence of God’ features a steady, plodding mid-tempo intro with sprawling tremolo patterns that turns into a steady series of thumping patterns with the furious charge through the mid-section featuring plenty of frantic blasting alongside intense buzzing tremolo riff-work leading through the sprawling final half to make this a stylish and enjoyable epic. ‘God Did Not Create Us’ takes a steady mid-tempo gallop with the frantic tremolo riffing and plenty of tight, blasting drumming taking the far more chaotic rhythms and stellar riffing through the sprawling mid-tempo sections as the blazing tremolo-picked rhythms continue on through the thumping finale to give this a strong highlight offering.

The second half here is another strong set of songs that does feel a little short being that they’re all epics. ‘Suicidal Seduction’ blasts through intense drumming and frantic swirling rhythms continually blaring throughout the thumping, driving rhythms led by the frantic swirling riff-work alongside the full-on blasting drumming taking the sprawling melodies into the charging tremolo riffing in the final half for another strong track if it comes off just a bit too long with the extended.finale. ‘Where Light Touches None’ takes an immediate series of swirling tremolo patterns amidst blasting drum-work and a sharp series of rhythm changes that blasts out into frantic up-tempo gallops and charging mid-tempo driving rhythms with plenty of sprawling riff-work and melodic, celestial keyboards providing ambience leading back through the sprawling tremolo patterns in the finale for a much more enjoyable epic. Finally, ‘The Sign of the Goat’ features a strong, plodding series of riffing and steady drumming as the mid-tempo rhythms and sluggish paces give way to more frantic patterns with the choppy drumming and swirling tremolo patterns still keeping the droning patterns on throughout the final half for the album’s lone dud and a pretty underwhelming final impression.

Though this one does tend to play by the rules way too often and doesn’t really bring anything new to the table that dozens of other old-school-worshipping bands are providing, they’re still one of the more fun acts here with the conviction and fun they generate which tends to make this an easy recommend to those looking for another enjoyable effort from that whole scene.

Score: 85/100

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Psychosomatic - Clicking Sound of a Hammer Pulled Back

Artist: Psychosomatic
Release Title: Clicking Sound of a Hammer Pulled Back
Year: 2015
Label: Buriedinhell Records
Genre: Crossover/Thrash Metal
1. Chemical Burn
2. Murder of Crows
3. Immortal Disease
4. Nineteen Eleven
5. Summoning
6. Power Addict
7. Grand Mal Seizure
8. Conscripted
9. Ritual Point
10. Hemmorage
11. Incite a Riot
12. Downcast

The fourth full-length from Sacramento thrashers Psychosomatic is a strong, steady series of crossover-inspired thrashing that comes off enjoyable if not exactly groundbreaking. There’s a simple, straightforward attack here based on prototypical crossover rhythms that takes on tight, frenzied thrash riffs mixed with simplistic hardcore rhythms that play pretty much throughout here without much deviation here which manages to give this a wholly intense series of riffs here that comes off with a sense of speed and intensity. This is straightforward and urgent, charging along at the blistering speeds or the most part here that contains all the more impressive work where it keeps the intensity blazing along for the most part, and with the tight, pounding drumming and occasional use of gang-shouting that all play off the typical crossover school here which gives this plenty of fun though there’s a distracting quality found here that crops up because of this style. The short, sharp attack featured here manages to make these tracks so uniform and similar that it kinda bleeds together into each other which manages to give the tracks a rather uniform appearance that wears out it’s welcome in the second half where it comes into a rather familiar series of tracks that don’t really pack the same punch as the top half. They’re still fun, but running through these kinds of rhythms does make for this feeling and it does manage to hold this one down somewhat.

The first half here gives this a strong enough start to things. Intro ‘Chemical Burn’ takes a steady series of up-tempo thrashing rhythms with urgent riff-work and tight, pounding drumming thumping along to the steady, thumping mid-tempo sections as the rattling riff-work leads through to the finale for a strong opener. ‘Murder of Crows’ takes on steady, intense rhythms and tight, urgent riff-work with furious rhythms carrying along the straightforward, frantic patterns through the solo section and keeping the intensity through the final half for another strong effort. ‘Immortal Disease’ features immediate riff-work and pounding drumming with tight blasting alongside the frantic riff-work bringing along the steady rhythms from the thumping bass-lines and the tight drumming of the solo section and into the finale for a highly enjoyable effort. ‘Nineteen Eleven’ takes a steady, mid-tempo series of tight, frantic riffing and pounding drumming along through the rather steady and straightforward series of rhythms into the tight solo section final half for a short but effective effort. ‘Summoning’ takes a steady, thumping mid-tempo crossover groove through the frantic series of up-tempo rhythms and straightforward drumming with a fine series of rattling bass-lines through the solo section and on through the charging finale for the album’s highlight track.‘Power Addict’ uses blistering drumming and tight, frantic riff-work through a series of frenetic chugging rhythms blasting through the utterly frenetic pounding drumming and strong series of intense through the solo section and charging through the final half for strong back-to-back highlights.

The second half is a little weaker but still has some enjoyable elements. ‘Grand Mal Seizure’ takes on strong charging riff-work and intense rhythms pounding through hard-hitting riffing with charging thrash patterns taking the more hardcore arrangements through the explosive solo section and on through the swirling riff-work in the finale for a decent enough effort. ‘Conscripted’ features a steady series of tight, thumping rhythms with pounding drumming taking the rattling riff-work through the tight, technical patterns with plenty of pounding drumming alongside the tight, thumping rhythms of the solo section on through the final half for a solid-but-unspectacular offering. ‘Ritual Point’ uses blazing razor-wire riff-work with scorching leads thumping along in a frantic mid-tempo series of swirling riffing and pounding drumming with a strong series of thumping rhythms leading into the finale for another somewhat decent effort. ‘Hemmorage’ takes on intense razor-wire riffing with tight drum-work blasting through the intense rhythms and plenty of rather intense rhythms featured alongside the intense mid-tempo riffing charging through the solo section and continuing through the thumping final half for a much livelier offering. ‘Incite a Riot’ takes tight, razor-wire riffing with the intense gang-shouts carrying the utterly blistering and frenetic riff-work full of scorching, tight rhythms and thumping drum-work settling into a frantic mid-tempo charge through the intense finale for a strong effort overall. Album-closer ‘Downcast’ opens with a moody series of strumming acoustic guitars droning along through a melancholy, relaxed landscape with light, atmospheric rhythms carrying on through the relaxed tempos creating an effective-if-oddly-arranged closer here.

While it loses a little steam going into the final half there’s some utterly fun and raging tracks here that manage to incorporate enough blistering crossover thrash that it should wholly appeal to devout fans of the style or the band, or even those looking for something else beyond the typical thrash bands in the scene.

Score: 80/100

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Friday, February 26, 2016

Desolator (Swe) - Spawn of Misanthropy EP

Artist: Desolator (Swe)
Release Title: Spawn of Misanthropy EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independant
Genre: Death Metal
1. Illusions of Grandeur
2. The Faceless God
3. Sectarian Breed
4. Dark Epitaph

The first EP release from Swedish death metallers Desolator offers a blatantly excessive and enjoyable burst of old-school sounding death metal. Rather than opt for the chainsaw-buzzsaw grooves so prevalent in their homeland’s scene, this one takes more cues from classic American death metal with slow, massive rhythms and churning riff-work taking on a far more predominant sense of atmosphere and dread that retains a strong sense of the darkened macabre that feels more associated with that scene. Keeping things more of a mid-tempo slow-burn but keeping the speed contained to the appropriate sections whenever necessary not only furthers that churning atmospherics quite heavily but also manages the rather impressive feat of bringing variety into the effort along the way, bridging a full dynamic of rhythms and paces for a solid, well-rounded effort. It does tend to come off like the highlight reel from a full-length album with the shortened tracklisting that offers three solid tracks up-top and then delivering the crushing, monolithic closer here which is all in fine order throughout here, yet even that doesn’t really dampen the effect here with this one offering quite a powerful punch regardless of it’s size.

Overall here the tracks are quite impressive and enjoyable. Opener ‘Illusions of Grandeur’ features a sampled movie speech into a tight, vicious blast of staggered mid-tempo riffing staggering along with dynamic chugging rhythms and plenty of stylish tremolo-picked patterns against the blasting drumming as the overall dynamic rhythm changes continue throughout the solo section into the final half for a truly explosive opening shot. ‘The Faceless God’ blasts through frantic riffing and explosive drumming charging along with the furious tempos bringing the clanking rhythms and choppy patterns along through more mid-tempo realms with the dynamic riffing and drum-work coming through the finale for another enjoyable effort. ‘Sectarian Breed’ takes a rattling intro with plenty of staggered drumming and rattling mid-tempo rhythms full of dynamic start/start riffing that takes on more explosive arrangements with the pounding drumming alongside the melodic riff-work trinkling along through the charging finale for a slightly lower offering than the previous tracks but still has some enjoyable moments. Lastly, the epic album-closer ‘Dark Epitaph’ takes an epic movie-sampled intro that slowly grows into a plodding, militaristic march with bombastic, epic riffing and drum-blasts settling on a series of churning rhythms and pounding, plodding drumming that turns into a far more frantic and blasting series of swirling rhythms alongside the churning mid-tempo blasts into the solo section and on through the final half for a fine lasting impression.

Though it’s only four tracks long that really hurts this one as it seems over just when it’s really getting going, there’s little else to dislike here with this scathing blast of death metal that will readily appeal to most extreme metal fans or those that tend to follow Swedish death metal fervently.

Score: 88/100

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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Embedded - Bloodgeoning

Band: Embedded
Release Title: Bloodgeoning
Label: Apostasy Records
Year: 2016
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
1. Quadruple Corpse Horror
2. Murder-Suicide
3. Cleansed by Fire
4. Dawn of My Being
5. Edenblaze
6. Grinding the Bones
7. Time Has Come
8. Bowed

The fourth full-length from German brutal death metallers Embedded showcases this institution is still going strong offering this dynamic, beefy slab of brutal death. Offering the kind of tight, blazing riff-work full of frenetic, intense rhythms and scorching patterns, there’s a wickedly brutal air throughout the tracks here that offers up far more brutality with the use of the full-throttle tempo they’re played at. Running razor-wire style riffing and tight, blasting drumming at these speeds makes for quite an overall enjoyable time here getting the music to this kind of dexterous, twisting riffing done at this kind of full-throttle style that gives way to plenty of truly frantically-placed brutal death metal rhythms that contain plenty of howling patterns and rhythms that makes this far more old-school sounding than would be expected. This creates such a fine overall sense of fun here in the mixing of utterly brutal, pummeling rhythms alongside the more enjoyable old-school production style. Overall the album isn’t really all about the kind of experimentation or diversity that usually finds itself in the genre, as the band does tend to whip through basically one mind-set from start to finish here. The pummeling attacks and furious riffing that continually goes through each of the tracks here doesn’t really offer a whole lot of differences here between each of the songs as there’s an alarming singular-style arrangement. This one just plows ahead here without really varying up the arrangements or paces throughout this one, as while it does offer forth a strong volley of riffs there’s not a strong sense of variety that comes along, The straight-forward blasting doesn’t really offer up the room to do this anyway and that keeps the album feeling redundant at times with the deeper this goes, but it’s still only a minor fault to be found here.

The first half here makes for a strong impression overall. Opener ‘Quadruple Corpse Horror’ features utterly blistering drumming and twisting technical rhythms through the bouncy riff-work blasting along with plenty of savage drumming patterns carrying the dynamic paces with blistering riff-work and thumping patterns full of heavy, dynamic swirling riffs into the final half for an impressive opening blast. ‘Murder-Suicide’ uses a blistering series of rumbling riff-work and frantic drumming to carry through the tight series of razor-wire rhythms keeping a tight, steady mid-tempo pace featuring the frantic drumming blasts alongside the steady rumbling thump from the buzzing riff-work into the finale for another dynamic offering. ‘Cleansed by Fire’ features a slow-burning intro with dynamic riff-work and steady drumming slowly firing through tight, furious rhythms and dynamic blasting drumming thumping along at frantic tempos with the steady intense riffing holding the brutal patterns on throughout the final half for an immaculate highlight. ‘Dawn of My Being’ features tight, furious rhythms blazing along at a high series of intense patterns carrying the steady up-tempo riffing along with the frantic blasting drumming and thumping rhythms carrying the full-on intensity from the rumbling rhythms carrying along through the blasting finale for another utterly strong effort.

The second half here does have a lot of enjoyable parts to it as well. ‘Edenblaze’ rumbles along with steady mid-tempo rhythms on through the steady mid-tempo riffing before exploding with the frantic drumming into the furious razor-wire patterns blistering along with the tight, furious blasting coming along through the up-tempo rumbling full of punishing riff-work alongside the dynamic drumming through the final half for another strong highlight. ‘Grinding the Bones’ starts with ravenous razor-wire riffing rumbling along with plenty of tight, frantic blasting with a steady series of intense mid-tempo riff-work twisting along with the dynamic drumming that picks up strongly with utterly furious and frantic pounding rhythms along through the finale for a tight, explosive effort. ‘Time Has Come’ opens with furious blasts and tight, frantic riffing with furious drumming blasting along with the dynamic riff-work blazing through technical patterns flowing with ravenous, twisting patterns alongside the thunderous drumming carrying along the mid-tempo patterns in the final half fora furious overall effort. Lastly, album-closer ‘Bowed’ uses an extended buzzing intro that propels into a series of tight, frantic riffing through blazing razor-wire patterns alongside the pounding drumming full of choppy technical patterns blasting away with the ravenous flowing riff-work through dizzying complex runs with the blazing drumming carrying the intense patterns through the fade-out finale for a grand lasting impression.

This here is such a furious and enjoyable piece of brutal death metal that it scores so well with a lot of it’s full-throttle fury on display here, and while it does come off rather one-dimensional there’s far worse examples of this style out there which makes this a choice pick for brutal death metal aficionados as well as those that enjoy the more old-school style at work.

Score: 91/100

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Brutus (Neth) - Murwgebeukt

Artist: Brutus (Neth)
Release Title: Murgebeukt
Label: Willowtip Records
Year: 2016
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
1. Prematuur
2. Judaswieg
3. Vernederd
4. Lijdensweg
5. Vrouwenhaat
6. Kentering
7. Verbolgen
8. Gruweldaad
9. Rubensvrouw
10. Vulvanus
11. Achterdocht
12. Geestesziek
13. Murwgebeukt
14. Synopsis
15. Teloorgang
16. Ter ziele

The second full-length from Dutch brutal death metallers Brutus comes off as one of the most ferocious and unrelenting examples of the genre despite the decade-plus absence by the band. Utterly filled with tight, utterly raging tempos and full-throttle paces here, this is much more of a speed-driven brutal death metal offering ferocious riff-patterns that are truly demonic and feral as the unrelenting nature of the material comes out in full-force to make this an exceptionally explosive blast. Firing off explosive rhythm work here with technically-complex riffing and furious razor-wire patterns,it merely completes the more furious and blasting-heavy style on display with this one not only being so fast and savage in it’s tempos but also managing to incorporate enough precision-filled dynamics into the songwriting to keep things interesting beyond just the formulaic barbarian punishment doled out here. Also managing to feature just feral drumming and savage inhuman growling into the mixture, this manages to become quite an enjoyable effort. Right off the bat, though, one does manage to come across one of the album’s few weak points as there’s the feeling here that too much material is packed onto this release. This is especially true with several of the short, brief instrumentals on here that do tend to run this along to the point of overload by getting a breather in on a style of music that by definition really shouldn’t offer one. Likewise, for redundancy sake there’s no need to have this many original songs on the record at all either since the second half bleeds together with so much infernal blasting and guttural growling that it all starts to feel too samey-sounding to really get the full-impact of its’ intended mission, yet each of these effort only ends ups hindering this one slightly.

The first half is a solid representation of what to expect here. Instrumental intro ‘Prematuur’ features a crazed swirling guitar riff and distorted rhythms slowly leads into proper first track ‘Judaswieg’ features unrelenting pounding drumming, frantic rhythms and frenetic razor-wire riffing filled with tight patterns racing along the utterly chaotic tempos filled with plenty of ravenous change-overs and full-throttle blasting that carries into the final half that makes for a truly blistering and brutal opening shot. ‘Vernederd’ utilizes vicious razor-wire riff-work and tight rhythmic drumming to pound along at a savage mid-tempo charge as the tight guitar-work and blasting drumming continually bring the dynamic start/stop choppy patterns into the raging finale for another full-on blasting charge. ‘Lijdensweg’ opens with blasting drum-work and furious riff-work that work along through the twisting, technical patterns with the furious tempos taking the raging rhythms marching along with plenty of high-speed riff-work plowing alongside the maniacal drum-blasts howling along into the final half which makes for another strong highlight. ‘Vrouwenhaat’ utilizes utterly ferocious brutal blasting and dynamic rhythmic work with the furious guitars and twisting technical razor-wire riffing bringing along the choppy, chaotic rhythm blasting along in the finale for an enjoyable if not altogether essential track. The interlude ‘Kentering’ is a brief wall of distorted noise leading into the ferocious ‘Verbolgen’ which uses choppy rhythms, furious drumming and dexterous razor-wire patterns that continually plow through the utterly crazed blasting drumming with the swirling riff-work bringing along plenty of fiery rhythms as the dynamic patterns continually move through the crazed final half for one of the album’s overall highlights. ‘Gruweldaad’ slowly works up from the twisting technical patterns through the ravenous tempos with the tight, frantic blasting and swirling razor-wire riffing carrying the main rhythms along with plenty of savage patterns amid the choppy drumming with the savage patterns continuing on through the finale for another strong offering.

The second half is a little more of the same here but does contain some overly-familiar ideas. ‘Rubensvrouw’ utilizes choppy patterns alongside blasting drumming with the razor-wire riffs continuing through the frenetic, chaotic patterns alongside the utterly frantic drumming blasts and the furious, frantic riff-work dripping with blazing technically-precise rhythms into the charging final half for a strong overall effort. ‘Vulvanus’ offers bulging blistering riff-work and furious rhythms merging alongside the swirling patterns with the pounding drumming charging along with the up-tempo riff-work full of charging patterns and furious accents weaving throughout the chaotic patterns continually charging along into the finale for a dynamic if slightly overlong blast of feral material. The next instrumental breather ‘Achterdocht’ takes sampled cinematic howling winds and breathing before turning into a simple churning riff leading into ‘Geestesziek’ as the swirling riff-work and pounding drumming sound collide into a blast of swirling razor-wire patterns charging along at a furious mid-tempo pace with the furious drumming and intense riffing blistering through the charging and furious final half for another impressive effort. The title track features raging riff-work and tight drumming blasting through the furious, twisting rhythms pounding along as the fiery riffing continually blasts through the frenetic tempos with the extended mid-section breakdown leaving the dynamic bludgeoning rhythms blasting along into the finale for an overall enjoyable effort. ‘Synopsis’ features tight, utterly ferocious rhythms raging along through the choppy patterns with the plentiful drum-blasts blasting through with furious intensity charging along with bestial riffing churning along with the dynamic choppy rhythms continuing on through the final half in another overall strong track. ‘Teloorgang’ uses utterly raging razor-wire riffing and pounding drumming blasting along with furious intensity as the charging riffs weave through technically-complex razor-wire patterns alongside the furious drumming rhythms flowing alongside the rampaging guitar-work into the frenetic finale for a blistering and intense effort. Lastly, album closer ‘Ter ziele’ features sampled sounds and rather intense collages of distorted noise that works it’s way along quite nicely with the effect of leaving the madness behind that serves as the perfect ending note here.

Overall this is a certainly enjoyable enough release that does serve a more fitting epitaph for their fallen friend which is certainly respectable enough here though taken as a more traditional release it’s certainly lacking at times. It’s not enough to make this an all-over skip or a pass, especially for fans of maniacally-brutal and up-tempo death metal who are for sure the intended targets here, but the legacy does overshadow the music to a point.

Score: 88/100

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Wendigo (Nor) - Anthropophagist

Artist: Wendigo (Nor)
Release Title: Anthropophagist
Year: 2015
Label: Fallen-Angel Productions
1. Gore Infested Basement
2. Cannibal Ritual
3. The Anthropophagist
4. Serpent Master
5. Wendigo Psychosis
6. Fear (Is Big Business)
7. Human Flesh
8. Live Lobotomy
9. Ending

The debut full-length release from Norwegian black/thrashers Wendigo brings about an utterly fun take on the style that offers plenty of enjoyable moments about it. Based more on the kind of simplistic, stripped-down punk-style rhythms over the blasting drumming that rumbles along at a frantic tempo, the biggest factor here with this one is the more prominent bass-lines that are at the forefront of the band's sound which certainly makes for a louder, heavier style series of rhythms to be found here which is far more of a dirty, punk-rock style sound that meshes so well with those ravenous thrashing riffs. While these elements make for an utterly explosive mixture when played at their upper tempos, which thankfully is far more prominent, the more simplistic mid-tempo efforts come off far lower in terms of working through the slower end of their sound as there’s some more enjoyment found in their upper-tempos. Along with these strong elements, there’s some nice fun to be had from the experimentations found in the second half where they manage to incorporate a bit of keyboard prominence into the rhythms which tends to give this a kind of horror-film ambience that nicely mixes with their dirty riffing and subject matter which is a rather odd mix that doesn’t really seem to mesh well with their more rocking style. It’s a nice attempt at variation and there’s some decent moments at work, but there’s far more to like elsewhere here.

The first half here certainly starts this off on a fine note. Opener ‘Gore Infested Basement’ uses furious thrashing riff-work and pounding drumming rocking along at a frantic tempo with a driving intensity throughout the full-throttle pace with the utterly dexterous bass-lines rumbling along with plenty of frantic tremolo leads alongside the blaring bass-lines pulsating into the raging final half for an utterly infectious opener here. The droning epic ‘Cannibal Ritual’ features a rocking mid-tempo charge with blaring bass-lines thumping along to the simple approach with the rocking, single-minded riffing carrying along with plenty of tight riffing offering stellar mid-tempo paces along through the droning chanting and sprawling patterns found in the keyboard-led final half for an altogether-enjoyable if a slight letdown from from the previous effort. ‘The Anthropophagist’ blasts through a frantic mid-tempo charge with plenty of blaring bass-tones alongside the tight, thumping drumming carrying the frantic riff-work through the series of swirling riff-work and tight, blaring rhythms along the mid-tempo finale which makes for a fine overall effort. ‘Serpent Master’ opens with tight, raging riff-work and frantic rhythms with plenty of blaring drumming and plenty of furious thumping bass-lines taking the charging riff-work into rather furious tempos with the frantic patterns dropping off into a tight mid-tempo burst through the final half for another stellar offering on display. ‘Wendigo Psychosis’ takes a rocking up-tempo drum-beat and dynamic blaring bass-lines with the thumping riff-work carrying the simplistic rhythms along through the rocking series of up-tempo paces full of wholly dynamic and pounding drumming blaring through the extended finale for a rather frantic and enjoyable track.

Though slightly experimental in nature, the second half still feels quite cohesive with the upper half. ‘Fear (Is Big Business)’ uses a cinematic-style haunting keyboard riff over a simple, charging series of riffs with plenty of swirling riffing and plodding drumming slowly lurch through pounding rhythms and a furious blast of feral energy through the scorching riff-work augmented by ethereal cinematic keyboards throughout the final half for another absolutely stand-out highlight. ‘Human Flesh’ utilizes frenetic riffing alongside plenty of simple, rocking drumming that features a rather energetic mid-tempo pace as the swirling rhythms carry the simple melodies along with the haunting keyboards into the rocking finale for a rather needless throwaway track. ‘Live Lobotomy’ offers up more atmospheric keyboard melodies slowly through the simple, chugging rhythms with plenty of simple thumping drumming alongside the rumbling bass-lines with the atmospheric keyboards effectively drawing the atmosphere along into the final half for a fine if unspectacular effort. Album-closing instrumental ‘Ending’ takes a strong, classical piano melody with plenty of cinematic soundscapes through a simple tone offering a fine ending note for this to go out on.

While there’s a lot to really like here, it ultimately works a little too many obscure ideas into this one that does hold it back with all the seemingly contradictory elements at play, and even though this is a debut which deserves a few breaks due to them not having found their sound yet it really serves itself well enough to be worthwhile of fans to that genre of dirty rocking black/thrash.

Score: 82/100

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Heervader/Ancestors Blood - Ancestors Blood/Heervader Split

Artist: Ancestors Blood/Heervader
Release Title: Ancestors Blood/Heervader
Year: 2015
Label: Heidens Hart Records
Genre: Ancestors Blood (Pagan Black Metal); Heervader (Pagan Black Metal
1. Heervader - Berserkgangr 08:48
2. Heervader - Bloedbroeder van de Aarde 05:14
3. Heervader - Voorwaarts! 06:22
4. Ancestors Blood - Deceiver for Power and Glory 06:06
5. Ancestors Blood - Ritual of the Sacred Dance 07:33
6. Ancestors Blood - Revelation (Beyond Death) 04:43
7. Ancestors Blood - Rise of the Spirit of Ancient Heroes

This split release from these two black metal acts, the Finnish Ancestors Blood and Dutch Heervader, comes off rather well here with two pagan-inspired acts coming together for a truly enjoyable release.

On the Heervader side, this is mostly a nice mid-tempo affair that runs through mostly swirling tremolo rhythms and a raw, simplistic style that makes for bouncy, light pagan tunes. There’s another strong pagan influence here with the strong use of keyboards and acoustic guitars with the lyrics in their native tongue that furthers this all rather nicely alongside the tight use of traditional galloping rhythms and paces that makes the group rather engaging with their melodic tendencies helping to lend a fair bit of easy-going sensibilities to their section by making for pleasingly enjoyable tracks without really wading in the extremes of the genre. ‘Berserkgangr’ begins with spritely acoustic guitar runs before going through a lively mid-tempo series of tremolo-picked runs keeping to bouncy pagan rhythms as the occasional blastbeat works alongside the raw riff-work as interludes of folk instrumentals run alongside the warm tremolo melodies through the final half works for a strong opening. ‘Bloedbroeder van de Aarde’ features simple, thunderous drumming with an extended speech that turns into a bouncy mid-tempo gallop with swirling tremolo patterns and raw riffing through the series of tight rhythms with the light riff-work against the thunderous drumming along through the grand finale makes for another strong effort. ‘Voorwaarts!’ uses a fine acoustic intro with a nice burst into a fiery mid-tempo burst with swirling tremolo patterns and light acoustics mixed together for a fine series of patterns running throughout the sprawling, mid-tempo pace with the riffing continuing alongside the steady drumming with the light pagan patterns throughout the final half for a rather enjoyable conclusion to their side.

On the Ancestors Blood side,this ends up being quite similar overall with a few small added touches here and there. Again, the framework is based on swirling tremolo riffing and pounding, simplified drumming along steady, mid-tempo paces throughout that add a distinguished melodic flair and ambiance to their tracks as the strong framework keeps the tracks running along quite smoothly as should be beneficial from their longer career that yields a more cohesive, competent approach. The one big factor here that differentiates them from the others is a kind of grandiose, majestic keyboard bombast throughout the tracks that adds a grand style along with the raging tremolo riff-work that effectively portays the raw, repetitive arrangements associated with the genre for the big winners of the split. ‘Deceiver for Power and Glory’ features strong swirling tremolo patterns and charging drumming wrapping into a steady buzzing series of riffs with strong ethereal keyboards creating a fine epic soundscape with the extended patterns alongside the thumping drumming with the ethereal patterns coming through the finale for a rather enjoyable offering. The epic ‘Ritual of the Sacred Dance’ features a steady buzzing tremolo pattern steadily running through a fine mid-tempo series of patterns with the ethereal keyboards holding the melodic rhythms through glowing patterns of haunting keyboards washing through the simple rhythms with the fine drumming keeping the atmospherics in check throughout the final half for a strong if overlong effort. Finishing off with live versions of ‘Revelation (Beyond Death)’ and ‘Rise of the Spirit of Ancient Heroes’ where both take an endless droning series of riff-work through the fine mid-tempo riffing that holds the fine melodic rhythms and epic keyboards haunting throughout the originals only drenched in the low-fi reverb to effectively drown-out the actual riffing beyond the singular arrangements here for a fine if entirely unneeded conclusion to their side.

Overall, with the two bands here coming pretty much from the same style and making for a pretty cohesive style, this one gets quite enjoyable here at showcasing these two promising pagan black metal acts. Definitely worthwhile for those who are fans of either act on the release or the generally curious fan of this style looking to try something else out in the style.

Score: 80/100


Ancestors Blood:

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Matubes - The Return of the Black Metal EP

Artist: Matubes
Release Title: The Return of the Black Metal EP
Label: Distributor of Pain
Year: 2015
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. War Song
2. Left Hand Path
3. Drink the Poison

The debut EP from Bulgarian black metallers Matubes offers a fine teaser of their straightforward second-wave worship into a solid explosive burst. There’s little doubt here that the band is openly playing with the same arrangements and patterns their Norwegian brethren were doing nearly two decades ago, with the only real choices here being fast up-tempo runs brimming with explosive tremolo-styled rhythms or heavy, thumping mid-tempo workouts with low-slung, raspy riffing for the most part here, and it’s only real sense of deviation comes with the unexpected inclusion of some epic-tinged vocal choirs to great effect alongside the more traditional elements. While it’s highly unlikely that’s a potential avenue of exploration for the band given the placement in one section of one song here over the overwhelming old-school influences, this one just doesn’t really offer up much of a chance to do so otherwise with the short running time.

This here is a pretty solid and to-the-point effort. Opener ‘War Song’ brings along a steady, stylish mid-tempo series of riffing with frantic up-tempo tremolo riffing and pounding drumming that races along with tight, frantic drumming carrying on throughout the explosive blasts of the final half for a solid opening effort. ‘Left Hand Path’ features a straightforward mid-tempo series of swirling tremolo riffing and blasting drumming carrying along at a steady mid-tempo pace that carries through a fine series of thumping, frantic rhythms buzzing with tremolo-laced patterns that continue through the frantic and more intense finale for the best track here. ‘Drink the Poison’ works through a frantic burst of tremolo patterns and tight drumming with a steady series of frantic rhythms carrying through the twisting mid-tempo riffing that blasts through the occasional up-tempo series of riffs while working the more epic arrangements and backing vocals into the final half for another overall enjoyable offering that ends this on a fine note.

While there’s a lot to like on display here with it’s determined old-school style, the fact that there’s just three tracks here does end up underwhelming this one considerably by featuring so few areas of
experimentation that it doesn’t really get much of a chance to showcase anything else, leaving this one only for the most devout of second-wave-worshipping aficionados.

Score: 68/100

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Thursday, February 18, 2016

Númenor - Sword and Sorcery

Artist: Númenor
Release Title: Sword and Sorcery
Year: 2015
Genre: Symphonic Black/Power Metal
Label: Stormspell Records
1. Prelude
2. Dragonheart
3. The Arcanist
4. Interlude
5. The Prince in the Scarlet Robe
6. The Oath of Fëanor
7. Dragon of Erebor
8. Prelude II
9. Bane of Durin
10. Sleeping Sorceress

The second full-length from Serbian black/power metal mash-ups Númenor is pretty much on-point with how the band operates this dark-fantasy styled showcase they’ve been utilizing for awhile now. At the core of the band is the facet of using bombastic, majestic compositions that retain a cinematic style quality to the fast, furious music here that allows the keyboards full range of motion from their symphonic background here that serves the band very nicely throughout here. Featuring the type of epic bombast more normally associated with charging into a battlefield than any kind of symphonic overload, this ends up full of blasting drum-work and stylized if underutilized riffing to create a flurry of speed-driven barnburners that more-often-than-not enjoy a typically up-tempo feel aided along by these majestic melodies that’s entirely enjoyable. Still, the fact that the band tends to employ a dual-vocal approach that’s highly original and enjoyable is the biggest selling point, utilizing black metal shrieks and growls over this type of bombastic music alongside truly soaring clean singing is a fine step here. With the occasional rabid snarl turning into a clean croon used on multiple occasions, this makes for a really enjoyable time and gives this a somewhat different feel than most symphonic power metal albums. Undoubtedly the guitars should be more utilized throughout here for when they appear there’s a lot to like about them ripping away with some fantastic melodies and surging rhythms, and the album does tend to feel quite short with the several interludes that keep the running time down from what could’ve been, but for the most part there’s not too much to dislike here.

The first half here has plenty of enjoyable efforts to it. Opening instrumental ‘Prelude’ offers a grand majestic intro with a marching battle theme that leads directly into proper first track as ‘Dragonheart’ blasts away with a grand chorus of swirling keyboards, blasting double-barred drumming and soaring guitar-work that works along a series of melodic vocals and ferocious snarls that weave the enthusiastic energy into a grand chugging solo section full of fiery leads that continues into the finale for a strong opening salvo. ‘The Arcanist’ utilizes a more mid-tempo march with the same pounding drum-work and majestic keyboard work that works through more of a plodding pace with a few varying tremolo-picked rhythms that pick the energy up significantly as a fine mixture of pounding drumming with swirling keyboards continue swirling together into the final half for a fine if somewhat unimpressive effort. The first instrumental ‘Interlude’ features a simple classical piano melody trinkling along to a majestic choir arrangement that blasts into ‘The Prince in the Scarlet Robe,’ which uses a more up-tempo and marching keyboard tempo with swirling keyboard rhythms alongside the dexterous drumming that continues swirling throughout the changing vocals as the soaring melodic solo section brings the thumping energy along into a relaxed finale outro that leaves this one quite an enjoyable blast.

The second half here is a slight notch below but still contains enough to make it listenable as well. ‘The Oath of Fëanor’ takes a more somber approach with the orchestral choirs and more subdued drumming alongside some chugging riff-work alongside the rather bombastic keyboard work with a simple chugging pattern continuing on throughout the mid-tempo solo section and carrying on through the final half for a decent if unspectacular effort. The utterly frantic ‘Dragon of Erebor’ features a grand majestic keyboard intro which blazes into a sterling rampaging riff with plenty of melodies touches firing through a series of strong symphonic rhythms blazing through with plenty of bombastic drumming and scorching leads bristling with melodies and charging tempos that continues on into the grand finale for unquestionably the band’s highlight effort in their career. The last instrumental ‘Prelude II’ is mostly baroque chamber music blaring away with a light keyboard melody that leads nicely into ‘Bane of Durin’ as it takes the bleed-through keyboard melodies into a nice mid-tempo march that utilizes a tight chugging rhythm with swirling tremolo-picked riffing that gets buoyed by the light keyboard melodies and symphonic overtures carrying along into the solo section as the thumping rhythms pick up nicely into the final half for a highly enjoyable and impressive outing. ‘Sleeping Sorceress’ works through an extended sampled intro of keyboard sounds before turning into a mid-tempo blast of chugging riff-work, blasting drumming and swirling keyboard accents that takes a blazing mid-tempo pace throughout with the tight rhythms working in a series of melodic flurries into the solo section and continuing through the finale ends this on a positive note with a great lasting impression.

With a lot of enjoyable elements at play here, including a rather novel approach to symphonic power metal that’s not really tried all too often despite the impressive results it yields here, this ends up being a far better effort than expected which is really recommended for those looking for something different with their fantasy-driven power metal even with enough similarities that it won’t deter the traditionalists from liking it either.

Score: 90/100

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Cold Raven - Equilibrium and Chaos

Band: Cold Raven
Release Title: Equilibrium and Chaos
Label: Sliptrick Records
Year: 2015
Genre: Black Metal
1. Intro
2. No Mercy
3. In Worship With My Inner Darkness
4. Equilibrium and Chaos
5. Trapped in a Cult
6. Eons of False Prophets
7. The World is Doomed

The debut release from Italian black metallers Cold Raven  offers a pretty intriguing and enjoyable take on traditional black metal that is an effective first offering here. Still based on quite dynamic tremolo riffing filled with the prototypical brimstone-sounding rhythms that are quite at home with the originators of the genre, these are effectively balanced in here with the more mid-tempo paces which brings along a far more melodic bent to the material than otherwise expected. Though the fiery sections here make this one contain a deep, heavy thumping rhythm section that propels the tracks forward, the fact that the slower tempo here ends up rendering these rhythms more melodic by default comes off rather nicely here by making the tracks much more restrained than just simply blasting along through the same repetitive rhythms that are usually featured throughout the genre which is a fine feat. That does tend to make this one seem a bit more lethargic and plodding at times when it goes for the lighter arrangements, and while that in itself does give the band a fine identity going forward there’s still a minor stumbling block here with that stylistic choice.

The first half here does manage to get this one going nicely. The opening instrumental ‘Intro’ features a quiet melancholy riff over sampled rainfall and bird calls leading into proper first track ‘No Mercy’ which features a slow-building series of tremolo riffs into a fine melodic mid-tempo turn with tremolo rhythms and a steady series of thumping drum-work taking the gradually-increasing amount of fire-packed riffing through the thumping up-tempo riffing in the final half for a solid opening effort here. ‘In Worship With My Inner Darkness’ features a simple droning series of tremolo riffing alongside the series of mid-tempo riff-work that takes a series of stylish rhythms and dynamic drumming through the melodic sections brimming with tremolo sections throughout the finale making for a solid overall effort. The fiery title track uses a simple, stylish mid-tempo pace with tight rhythms and thumping drumming as the rather charging mid-range tremolo riffing offers a heavy, simplified charge with blackened blasts and furious riff-work twisting along through the heavy, thumping rhythms of the final half for a rather enjoyable and impressive effort.

While packed with their epic-length tracks, there’s not a lot of difference between the sections here. ‘Trapped in a Cult’ takes a slow, extended droning intro with a series of stylish mid-tempo rhythms with pounding rhythms and the fine occasional blast of tremolo riff-work alongside the majority of the mid-tempo paces charging along through the series of twisting heavier rhythms and tight blasting that continually swirl through the mid-tempo paces throughout the finale for an enjoyable if somewhat overlong effort. ‘Eons of False Prophets’ brings heavy, thumping drumming and a strong series of swirling tremolo riff-work in strong spurts along through the briefer blasts placed alongside the more intense series of rhythms as the tight blasts and tremolo riffing carries on through the charging, thumping rhythms of the final half for an overall enjoyable track. Album-closer ‘The World is Doomed’ features a slow-building tremolo riff that leads into a steady mid-tempo series of blasts that feature more up-tempo rhythms and blasting drumming that manage far more intriguing arrangements with the simple charging rhythms carrying the blasting fury through the light droning of the finale for an enjoyable lasting impression here.

For the most part this one here wasn’t all too terrible but certainly does have some minor flaws for those who prefer their black metal far more of the fiery and explosive side here, though there’s still plenty to like here in this style which in the end makes this one a non-essential choice for those who prefer more relaxed and melodic forms of black metal.

Score: 78/100

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Risen Prophecy - Into the Valley of Hinnom

Band: Risen Prophecy
Release Title: Into the Valley of Hinnom
Label: Metal-on-Metal Records
Year: 2015
Genre: Power/Thrash Metal
1. The Descension
2. Brood of Vipers
3. Knowing Nothing
4. To the Wolves
5. Into the Valley of Hinnom
6. The Ascension

The second full-length from UK power/thrashers Risen Prophecy offers up plenty of rather fun and enjoyable elements here that truly make this an enjoyable and wholly interesting piece of thrash. Taking a more speed-driven approach here, the music is by-and-large epic with wholly raging tempos throughout here that retain the technicality, bristling speed and infectious melodies running throughout the album here that when this one gets the intense thrashing driving along there’s plenty of enjoyable elements at play here. That’s even before it starts to take into account the epic-style arrangements at play here, opting for a grandiose sense of bombast that makes for quite an enjoyable addition to the rest of the melodies and rhythms by taking the blazing speed through a truly over-the-top series of patterns that contain the kind of explosive speed required here to really sell this one far more than the rest of the arrangements would’ve without employing that kind of bombast to the remaining elements here. though this does seem a little undone by the quick running time and overall short number of actual tracks on display with the opening and closing tracks being brief interludes against the remaining epic-length arrangements, these here are the only minor flaws on display here.

For the most part there’s no real surprises throughout here as this is exceptionally consistent. Opening instrumental ‘The Descension’ offers a light, romantic notes throughout that eventually work into proper first track ‘Brood of Vipers’ which whips through rolling drum-work and plenty of scorching technically-proficient riffs as the intense rhythms and pounding drumming brings the melodies alongside the pounding rhythms through choppy patterns and scorching intense rhythms along through the spindly riff-work into the final half for a stellar opening impression. ‘Knowing Nothing’ uses tight, raging riff-work and a stellar series of choppy rhythms throughout the first half with scores of melodic sprawling alongside the mid-tempo run with the tight crunchy riff-work with the technical patterns carrying the scorching speed-driven rhythms along into the epic arrangements throughout the extended finale for another overall strong and impressive effort. 

By-and-large the second half doesn’t really do much differently from the first half. ‘To the Wolves’ takes a steady, melody-driven intro into a fine, stylish mid-tempo charge with frantic scorching riff-work and plenty of intense, driving riff-work and equally pounding drumming blasting through utterly raging up-tempo flurries bristling with epic, speed-driven rhythms into the melodic solo section and carrying the speed into the driving final half for one of the album’s overall highlight offerings. The utterly epic title track uses a steady mid-tempo plodding first half with tight rhythms slowly working into a thunderous full-throttle charging with the epic arrangements bringing forth even more speed and precision into the frantic series of high-energy thrashing while taking a brooding atmospheric mid-tempo break into a meandering psychedelic dreamspace that finally leads back into the frantic, charging up-tempo rhythms with the epic arrangements that carry through the solo sections into the finale for a truly engaging effort. Album-closing instrumental ‘The Ascension’ takes on a cinematic soundscape with a light guitar droning over howling winds and drawing the epic soundscape through the final half for an appropriate lasting note here.

Overall there’s a ton of absolutely stellar material here that comes off so well and dynamic that there’s so little to find fault with here that it tends to wind up appealing for so many different crowds here this one ends appealing to nearly all of them, from those that enjoy ripping speed-driven thrash, to the fans of epic metal or even fantasy-influenced melodic metal all quite easily.

Score: 95/100

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Dangerous - Metal Heritage

Band: Dangerous
Release Title: Metal Heritage
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Year: 2015
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. Intro
2. Metal Heritage
3. Victims of Hate
4. Thrash on the Streets
5. Murderous Tradition
6. Sacrifice
7. Danger's Return
8. Batalla Final
9. Executioners of Mankind
10. Running Amok

The debut full-length from Chilean thrashers Dangerous effectively places them right at the forefront of the retro-thrash revival scene here with this blistering assault of old-school thrash. There’s no real surprises here as this here is essentially Bay-Area thrash circa 1989, meaning this one plays with all the usual toys in that playbook but manages to execute them so effectively and enjoyably that there’s hardly anything at all wrong here beyond that straight-up rip from that style. Taking tight, crunchy riff-work and thunderous drumming along with frantic, intense arrangements offering forth plenty of speed and driving energy that allows for plenty of stellar rhythms and full-on thrashing straight from that school of metal. The hard-hitting drumming keeps things running along the intense paces driven by these strong rhythms, and the whole affair is made all the more engaging here with that type of infectious old-school attitude running throughout the tracks here. Even the strong production style here makes this quite a fine retro-sounding affair with the up-front guitars and noodling bass-lines while the pounding drums batter away in the background. It’s just the fact that this one is so overly familiar and takes straight from the past without changing it that holds it back.

There’s a great sense of what’s on display here through the first half. The opening instrumental ‘Intro’ uses howling winds and a light, trinkling guitar riff offering melancholy atmospheres that slowly work their way into proper first track as the title track features explosive riff-work, raging rhythms and pounding drumming that utterly blasts through tight, frantic tempos carrying schizophrenic and intense patterns along through the solo section as the urgent, intense paces continue through the finale to make an explosive first impression. ‘Victims of Hate’ features tight, raging rhythms scorching alongside the thumping lead-work thumping along to the charging, energetic mid-section work with plenty of pounding drum-work bringing the tight riffing and up-tempo paces racing through the frantic solo section in the final half for another overall enjoyable highlight. ‘Thrash on the Streets’ uses a strong retro-style intro with utterly explosive frantic riff-work and thunderous, pounding drumming complete with intense riff-work and rather frantic drumming with scorching melodic work through the dynamic solo section into the crunchy charge of the finale for a truly frantic highlight offering here. ‘Murderous Tradition’ features a steady build-up intro into a plodding mid-tempo pace with the explosive, tight riffing and thunderous drumming carrying along nicely through the frantic rhythms and driving intense riff-work featured throughout the charging and intense rhythms in the solo section bristling through the final half for a nice energetic thrasher.

The final half here makes for a solid, cohesive whole here. ‘Sacrifice’ brings a tight, charging series of thumping riffing and steady drum-work along a fine mid-tempo gallop that continually brings the stylish rhythms along through the steady thrashing rhythms with the fine thumping energy throughout the stylish thumping in the solo section and on through the charging finale which makes this a slightly lower but still enjoyable effort. ‘Danger's Return’ features a blaring air-raid siren leading into tight, frantic riffing through blazing up-tempo rhythms featuring frantic drum-blasts and surging riffs thrashing along the steady mid-tempo pace full of buzzing rhythm patterns with plenty of crunchy patterns pounding into the solo section final half for another truly enjoyable offering. ‘Batalla Final’ takes thrashing up-tempo riffing and pounding drumming along through a frantic mid-tempo gallop full of tight buzzing rhythms and simple patterns that race along through the enjoyable up-tempo pace through the solo section and though the charging finale for an overall enjoyable effort. ‘Executioners of Mankind’ uses a stylish mid-tempo gallop through a series of charging riff-work and pounding drumming thumping along to the up-tempo pace throughout here with technically proficient rhythms thrashing along throughout the steady up-tempo paces leading into the solo section and carrying through the strong, thumping final half for another strong track. Album-closer ‘Running Amok’ features a simple mid-tempo thrashing riff with plenty of pounding drumming ripping through a frantic up-tempo pace with scores of melodic rhythms running alongside the rampaging riff-work and taking the frantic riff-work through the tight solo section finale for a great ending impression here.

This was quite the fun and overall impressive effort that really only falls down slightly to the fact that it doesn’t really offer much new material here in terms of old-school thrash, but the energy and enthusiasm that they display in that style make up for quite a lot of those flaws and makes this a stellar choice for old-school thrash revival fans or even thrash in general.

Score: 91/100

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Grave Forsaken - The Fight Goes On

Band: Grave Forsaken
Release Title: The Fight Goes On
Label: Soundmass Records
Year: 2015
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. The Fight Goes On
2. There Is No Peace
3. Politics of Popularity
4. Four Creatures
5. Duluth Airbase Intruder
6. Strike the Oppressor
7. God Is with Us
8. Glimpse of Armageddon

The sixth full-length from Australian thrashers Grave Forsaken features some rather enjoyable moments throughout here but is hampered somewhat by a few small flaws. For the most part the band is more firmly aligned in the thrash realm here with a series of tight, explosive riffing generating a series of up-tempo rhythms containing that crunchy riff-work that aligns itself quite easily with the old-school thrash movement, while the strong melodic vocals and tight crunchy riffing equally work as more thrash-based here than more normally influenced by death metal. Though the tight rhythm-work and crunchy chug-patterns do give the group a heavier style here that does approach more nominal death metal groups, it’s still not all the way there in terms of really needing that approach throughout here which does set-up the first of the album’s few problems. The heavier rhythm work on display does tend to come off much better when compared to the more prominent mid-tempo thrashing featured with a bit of a lackluster feel here dropping into those slower paces that don’t really offer this all that much of a truer thrash feel at times.With some plodding tempos and rather lackluster rhythms delivered as well at times, this one can struggle to remain interesting on the non full-on thrash tracks as there’s some pretty bland arrangements here that do occur. While it’s got enough thrashing moments here to make up for some of that, there’s still some weak moments holding this one down.

The first half here is a solid and serviceable showcase for their style. The title track features grooving bass-lines and raging drumming through tight, frantic patterns with steady up-tempo thrashing and utilizes scores of scalding thrash riffing with full-on melodic swarming solo-work as the extended melodic droning leads back into the raging thrashing of the final half for a solid opening effort. ‘There Is No Peace’ slowly works into a steady mid-tempo gallop with plenty of crunchy riffing and dynamic drumming that works through far more aggressive rhythms throughout the mid-section as the melodic thumping carries through the solo section with frantic riffing along the finale for a somewhat decent enough track. The bland ‘Politics of Popularity’ uses a slow-building intro with steady mid-tempo plodding with the sprawling ambient rhythms sprawling along at a lethargic pace with the tight, chugging rhythms holding along through the solo section and plodding along into the final half for an overall less-than-stellar effort. ‘Four Creatures’ features a steady mid-tempo stomp with plenty of groovy attitude with steady riffing keeping the steady rhythms throughout the simplified paces with a strong up-tempo blast throughout the marching stomp in the solo section into the finale for a rather enjoyable effort.

The second half here makes this one come off a little better with some enjoyable tracks here. ‘Duluth Airbase Intruder’ features a strong series of mid-tempo riffing with plenty of tight rhythms and stylish drumming as the steady riffing keeps the galloping mid-tempo pace along with the energetic solo section bringing along some up-tempo riffing with a far more steady series of riffing continues into the final half for an enjoyable effort overall. ‘Strike the Oppressor’ features a simple swirling mid-tempo riff with plenty stylish melodic beats carrying the thumping rhythms and tight riff-work along through the frantic riffing patterns leading into the scorching up-tempo rhythms and plentiful riff-work in the finale for another enjoyable thrasher. ‘God Is with Us’ features a steady, melodic mid-tempo dirge through a plodding series of swirling riffing with rather harmonies melodies alongside the steady, one-dimensional pace with the heavier rhythms carrying along through the solo section that brings the plodding rhythms along through the final half for a rather bland and ineffective track. Lastly, ‘Glimpse of Armageddon’ uses tight, raging riff-work with frantic rhythms and pounding drumming settling into a fine mid-tempo charge using the stellar patterns as the tighter rhythms carry the sprawling mid-tempo atmospheric break into the solo section full of frantic rhythms carrying on through the finale for an overall fine lasting impression here.

While there’s some slight flaws to be found here, this wasn’t all that bad when it mattered which makes this one quite enjoyable at times, though there’s some problems in here that will keep this from all but the bands’ most ardent followers and those that approve of this kind of Christian metal.

Score: 70/100

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Monday, February 15, 2016

Crushing Axes - Never-Ending Battle Against the Human Plague

Band: Crushing Axes
Release Title: Never-Ending Battle Against the Human Plague
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Death Metal
Year: 2015
1. Raping the Earth 03:17
2. Stretching Guts 02:28
3. Killing the Innocent 02:59
4. Death Sign 03:36
5. Christian Slaughter 03:00
6. Eppur si muove 02:35
7. Donec Mors Non Separat 03:12
8. Battle Cry 03:35
9. Labyrinth 02:53
10. Est Modus in Rebus 03:05
11. Divine Wrath

The tenth full-length album from Brazilian one-man death metal effort Crushing Axes tends to come across more the same as his past efforts but still retains a lot of enjoyable elements to keep this one rather nicely. As a whole, the album manages to feature a pretty consistent mid-tempo style groove loaded with heavy, chunky riff-work that seems to run through in one speed, the mid-tempo sprawl. This makes for a solid, meaty helping of simple riffing arrangements with a lack of variation in the tempos regardless of the fact that this one does go for a more aggressive series of arrangements. This does seem to make this decidedly more enjoyable than before as despite the one-note sprawling mid-tempo crunch throughout this, the faster tempos and riff variations is quite a bit more intense along with a deeper, rumbling production that makes this sound quite a bit deeper and more impressive. Still, the fact remains here with the album seeming to fall in love with the same types of rhythms and riff-work throughout this as the tracks are based on the similar-type paces have eerily familiar rhythms throughout and can make for a somewhat tedious exercise when it tends to run through familiar ground with each other, but by and large this one here is quite enjoyable since the much fiery style riff-work featured.

The first half here carries this one along quite nicely. Opening track ‘Raping the Earth’ features swirling riff-work and pounding drumming taking along at a steady up-tempo pace with surprisingly energetic and wholly engaging riffing along the simplistic patterns continuing along throughout the rather steady paces along into the final half for a rather fine opening here. ‘Stretching Guts’ uses a rather savage mid-tempo series of riff-work and rather charging mid-tempo paces here with the stuttering rhythms alongside the tight drumming working along into a rather tight, vicious mid-tempo series of blasting drumming keeping the charging rhythms along into the finale for an overall enjoyable effort. ‘Killing the Innocent’ brings frantic drumming and charging mid-tempo riffing full of steady, simplistic patterns with aggressive rhythms leading along into the soaring solo section rumbling along through the steady, simplistic drumming raging along with the stuttering riff-work into the final half for a fun track. ‘Death Sign’ rumbles along with steady drumming and plenty of aggressive, simplistic riffing offering some nice trinkling melodic sprawling rhythms alongside the thunderous drum-work leading along into the staggered riff-patterns carrying along throughout the rather charging rhythms of the finale for a fun if slightly unappealing track. ‘Christian Slaughter’ takes a sturdy, mid-tempo riff and fine drumming into a steady mid-tempo charge with plenty of ravenous drumming carrying along more intense riff-work along into the solo section full of sparkling rhythms and continuing along through the steady final half for an overall enjoyable offering. ‘Eppur si muove’ features a rumbling mid-tempo crawl with thumping drumming and steady riff-work that kicks into more ferocious and intense rhythms with some rather explosive blasting drumming carrying along into a fine melodic break in the finale for a stylish highlight effort.

Overall, the second half doesn’t variate much from the upper half. ‘Donec Mors Non Separat’ features a short, simple series of steady riffing with plenty of thumping drumming taking the strong, up tempo riffing along through the steady, sprawling rhythms featured in the solo section featuring rather celestial melodic keyboards before driving along into the final half for another fun effort. The utterly bland ‘Battle Cry’ uses a simple charging riff with plenty of tight patterns and steady drumming along into a plodding tempo with strong rhythms into a simple pace that never really kicks into any gear or tempo along into the steady riff-work into the simplistic finale for a rather dull and lifeless offering.‘Labyrinth’ uses a charging mid-tempo series of fiery rhythms and pounding drumming carrying frenetic blasting with plenty of engaging riff-work and a rather explosive series of main riffs that flow along into the stylish solo section that carries the pounding blasts along into the final half for another strong highlight offering. ‘Est Modus in Rebus’ features a series of stylish series of mid-tempo riffing that settles into a lethargic charge with plenty of pounding drumming throughout as the tight rhythms carry along through the steady rumbling riffing along into the finale for another overall enjoyable effort. Lastly, album closer ‘Divine Wrath’ uses a thumping mid-tempo charge with simple riffing and thudding drumming with plenty of pounding rhythms carrying along into the tight, charging mid-section with plenty of thumping rhythms and fiery riff-work leading through the solo section and along into the charging final half for a solid ending note here.

Overall this here was quite the impressive if still somewhat flawed effort that makes for a much more impressive and enjoyable variation of his simplistic, energetic brand of death metal, making this one a rather solid effort that’s perfectly in line with fans of his previous work as well as those who prefer this kind of no-frills, to-the-point death metal.

Rating: 79/100

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