ABIGAIL

“The Final Damnation” CD

(Nuclear War Now Productions)

 

The Japanese thrash, heavy metal masters of darkness are back, with their fifth full-length release to date. This disc features eight songs of traditional heavy metal mixed with some aggressive thrash metal. The guitars are played with a lot of skill, are well written, and well performed memorable patterns. The guitarist knows how to write and mix both mid paced sections, with lightning fast guitars, all accented with some nicely played solos. The drummer is extremely tight and can play both chaotic and fast patterns on down to a more middle tempo style. The vocals are done with raw blackened thrashy screams, mixed with more traditional heavy metal screaming vocal style. If you are a fan of Abigail’s musical style, then be sure to buy this new released today, it does not disappoint.  - Patrick 

https://www.facebook.com/ABIGAILBARBATOS-208365735859610/    http://www.nwnprod.com/    

 

 

ABUSE

“Nothing Is Safe” CD

(Comatose Music)

 

Abuse are a brutal death metal band who come out of the Canadian death metal scene. “Nothing Is Safe” is the bands second full length in sixteen years featuring ten gore filled songs. The guitars on here are played with a mix of heavy, mid paced patterns that do speed up to a faster and more crazed guitar style. The vocals are low brutal death growls, and a few screams are mixed into a few of the songs. If you are a fan of no holds barred brutality then definitely pick up Abuse’s new disc once it is released.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/youwillsubmit    http://www.comatosemusic.com/       

 

 

ÆTHER REALM

“Tarot” CD

(Primitive Ways Records)

 

Do you enjoy folksy melodies, mighty guitar solos, kinetic rhythms, and choruses fit for the gnarliest of pub sing-alongs? Well, pick up your drinking horns and boffers, lords and dames, for we have a massively fun chunk of folk-influenced melodic death metal for you. Æther Realm had been working on this album over the past few years up until its recent release on June 7th of this year. They released its first single back in 2015, titled “The Chariot”, which had fans biting their nails for two years in expectancy of the next full length after One Chosen By The Gods. Now, fans can hold in their hands the compact disc that they have been waiting for since 2013, and its weight is all at once light-hearted and hard-hitting. This spectrum starts on one end with “King of Cups”, boasting of a mystical brew and calling comrades to “Chug! Chug! Chug!” with an all-too-appropriate featured vocal performance from Chris Bowes of Alestorm. On the other end, we have the title track “Tarot” that blasts away as one of the most straightforward, true-to-form, yet exceptionally Æther Realm-esque melodeath tracks on the album. Straddling these two poles are tracks like “Death” that take a slower pace with a loping rhythm and a dismally optimistic melody that conveys a positive view of mortality from the perspective of someone experiencing the afterlife as a wandering soul. Everything about this album is memorable and enjoyable, not to mention it shows that the band has moved far ahead of the bar they set for themselves with their debut. I was most looking forward to hearing their sound mature further, as well as the production quality improve, and I am pleased to say that both of these hopes were met and then some. Definitely give this album a listen if you want an engaging folk metal experience, or if you just want to have a good time. Both will surely happen. – Aaron

https://aether-realm.bandcamp.com/   http://www.primitivewaysrecords.com/         

 

 

AILS

“The Unraveling” CD

(The Flenser)

 

If I had to describe this album with one word, it would be torrential. The Unraveling is teeming with potentiality—always on the cusp of the next kickass movement in a series of grappling hooks. Each track on this album has a personality that distinguishes itself from the rest, exhibiting the acute depth of thought that Ails put into weaving together their work. (I know it seems a contradictory statement for them to weave something together that is “unraveling,” but bear with me.) They navigate the challenging waters of contrast with ease. For example, the first track, “The Echoes Waned,” showcases Ails’ tact with combining blackened metallic craftsmanship with earthier tones in the clean vocals (which most immediately contrast with the more prevalent blackened shrieks) and brief stripped-down moments that bookend the composition. The very next track, “Dead Metaphors,” begins in a doom-laden manner, but transitions into “Any Spark of Life,” which often finds itself at a confluence of exuberant riffing and more patient sections. Ails work with all of these dynamics with immense control, constructing an album that listeners can fully immerse themselves in while still feeling a sense of direction, of propulsive momentum. If “Mare Weighs Down” is looking over a cliff’s edge into a cyclone, “The Ruin” is the subsequent descent and experience of the whirling rapids. Everyone comes out on top in the end with the ultimate, epic finale of “Bitter Past,” which begins with a slightly twang-y guitar line that puts into music the recollection of a caustic memory that sticks in one’s cranium like an irksome bur. This track leads the listeners out of the album through craggy rapids, leaving them with a sense of catharsis. Listening to The Unraveling is an exercise in refiguring the familiar with the energy of the present—even though we exit the album through the “past,” Ails still demonstrate that progress can be made in habituated mediums. I would highly recommend this album to any fan of forward-thinking extreme metal. – Aaron

https://theflenser.bandcamp.com/album/the-unraveling    http://theflenser.com/         

 

 

AMENOPHIS

““Demos 1991-1992” CD

(I Hate Records)

 

I really enjoyed the morbid packaging and layout of this disc. Also, the whole inside of the booklet, contains a fairly detailed account from the band leader, on the entire history of the band start to finish. It really gives that personal touch and connection. I liked the story, where their local youth centre put on a local battle of the bands type festival. Where Tim took it upon himself, to invite extreme metal bands from around the area, to sign up and dominate the line up much to the organizers displeasure. Apparently, even Marduk, in full corpse paint made their debut live performance at the event! Now on to the music… I love the raw feeling and atmosphere on the recording of the first demo tape. It is really dark, and evil sounding, it kind of reminds me on the sound on the great demos of Grave. I think some of the influences going on here (on the first demo) are things like early works of Grave, Bathory, Death, Celtic Frost, Possessed, Autopsy etc… I really like this first demo tape, and I am happy to have it in collection, it is a real gem from the early days of the death metal scene. Now, on to the second demo entitled “The Twelfth Hour”, the production still sounds good and has a little touch of darkness to it, but it is a cleaner and more professional. Here they have decided to reach even further, back into their root influences, and they have added more of a mid to late ‘80s German thrash metal attack to the mix. The result is good, and there are some heavy killer riffs on here, but I have to admit despite liking this newer style, I prefer the primitive style and recording, to this newer, more polished demo tape. But, you really can not go wrong, with album length compilation. Which unearths an important piece of the fabled Swedish death metal underground, which many people did not know of or maybe just need a reminder.  - Dale 

http://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Amenophis/104155    http://www.ihate.se/       

 

 

ANTICHRIST

“Sinful Birth” CD

(I Hate Records)

 

The Swedish thrash metal attack continues, coming at us in unrelenting waves violence; with the excellent I Hate Records urging them onward and bringing support artillery up from the rear. Antichrist sound quite different from their countrymen Entrench, which I just reviewed, but they also harken back in every way to mid-80s thrash nostalgia and greatness! “Sinful Birth” erupts out of the gates from all directions with swirling, blazing guitars, sounding like they are perpetually on the edge of collision. Like when you see someone on a motorbike and the front wheel starts wobble and weave, you know either the driver manages to smooth and straighten things out, or he is about to crash and scrap his flesh across the pavement. This is what the guitars sound like, the audio version of that most of the time, they are great, but almost going faster than the players can handle and are on the verge of spinning out of control at all times, they always manage to straighten out the wheel just in time, but it keeps you on the edge of your seat, as a listener let me tell you. It is also very infectious, keeping you spellbound with it’s high energy, forcing your heart to pound and your blood pump as you headbang along. The only time they seem calmed down and in control, in the zone emotionally is during the great emotive, epic ten minute instrumental track “Chernobyl 1986”. I get sped up early Slayer and Infernal Majesty “None Shall Defy” vibes from this album at times and I like it. Speaking of which, let’s move on to the excellent, if not off kilter manic vocals, which to make another analogy remind me of someone in a horror movie who is being hunted down by some entity and the prey in this case is out of breath, distraught and losing his mind in terror and verbalizing it in gasping fright. Just imagine adding that to the guitars I mentioned above and between the two this is a white knuckle thrill ride of thrash metal insanity. The vocals definitely have threads, by my ear of the vocalists of the two bands I mentioned above, with a mixing of Tom Araya on the first few records and Chris Bailey thrown in a chaos blender. This is easily one of the most intense thrash metal records I have heard in the last couple decades! Fuck me! Get this now and wreck your neck!!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/antichristsweden/    http://www.ihate.se/          

 

 

ANTICHRIST

“Pax Moriendi” CD

(Iron Bonehead Records)

 

I have been championing the South American scene the last couple years. But, I have been surprised to often be met with comments, like “Oh yeah that scene was good way back in the day from the late ‘80s to the mid ‘90s”. Well, I agree it was great back then, but also I say fucking wake up, and take another look the South American scene now, it is one of the top scenes in the world! That area of the world is fucking killing it in recent years, and only getting better, one of the current hotbeds of that UG scene these days is Peru (endless bands from there like Runa, Anal Vomit, Blaspherion, Kraken, Mortem, Profaner etc…), which is the country Antichrist hails from as well. “Pax Moriendi” creates a dismal audio landscape of death doom, dripping with sinister evil, which torments and suffocates the listener into submission. Yes, it is death metal, but it is extremely doomy in pace and feeling, pounding and crushing you in glorious slow motion. If you were to mix the albums “Mental Funeral” by Autopsy, “Transcendence Into The Peripheral” by Disembowelment and “Rites Of The Black Mass” by Acheron then you would probably have something that sounded very close to this album. Now, that I read that description, it is little wonder I like this album so much, as those are three of my all-time favourite releases in the history of extreme metal. The vocals are obscure, suffocating elongated rumbling growls, with emphasis more on the sound they create than the words they form; often words are drawn-out before and after with this vocal sound attached, and the result for me is quite satisfying. Now and again, there are some clean half sung/half spoken passages that are equally obscure sounding, and melt into the background of the wonderfully rumbling, lurching music. For me, the style of sound the band creates are the perfect union of death and doom metal, while always keeping things extremely dark and morbid. Recommended!  - Dale 

https://www.facebook.com/antichristperu    http://www.ironbonehead.de       

 

 

APOSTLE OF SOLITUDE

“From Gold To Ash” CD

(Cruz Del Sur Records)

 

It has been four years since this Indianapolis, Indiana bands last album, has it been worth the wait? Let’s dig in and find out. For those unfamiliar, Apostle Of Solitude play doom metal, in the classic old school style, but with a definite heavy metal base mixed within the foundation. I found myself immediately struck by the great despondent sounding guitar tone, which has a real richness to it and conveys very well, the general emotional tenor of the bands sound. I found this overall staple tonal guitar sound, which runs through the entire record, to be very captivating in it’s melancholic atmospheric majesty. The two guitarists Steve Janiak and Chuck Brown share vocal duties, though Chuck Brown (ex-The Gates Of Slumber where he played drums – talented dude) seems handle the bulk of them and takes the lead. The vocals are clean sung traditional style; with Brown often choosing to extend words and phrases, adding some extra feeling and range that suits the music well. The music and vocals do a fine job at mirroring the seemingly grey and emotionally overcast mood of the lyrical content. I think one of the biggest compliments I can give the band, would be that within this well trodden style of doom, to my fairly educated ear, they seem to have managed to create an own sound that I have trouble comparing to any specific bands. Which, certainly is no mean feat, especially in this day and age. Cruz Del Sur just keep finding quality band, after quality band, it is impressive and a real pleasure to follow along with this excellent record label labours, they have done it once again in spades with Apostle Of Solitude.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/apostleofsolitude    https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com           

 

 

ARDUINI / BALICH

“Dawn Of Ages” CD

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

This band’s name reflects the two driving artistic forces behind this band. You have vocalist Brian Balich, formerly of Penance, currently of the impressive Argus. Vincent Arduini, is a real veteran of the scene, in recent times he was a member of Freedom’s Reign. But he is best known as a founding member of Fates Warning, he was with the band from the start until just after their second album. I get the impression, reading between the lines of the bio, that Butch Balich may have been originally brought in by Victor just to do the vocals. But as two kept collaborating, Balich became an integral part of the song writing and creative process, morphing it into a full time band named after two. Either way, the result of these two forces combining, is impressive and exciting. The musical style I would call a marriage of classic clean doom in the vein of Black Sabbath, Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus etc… Combine those sounds heavily, with emotionally deep progressive rock, such as you might hear on Queensryche “Operation: Mindcrime” era, Captain Beyond or for a more modern example Fates Warning from the late ‘90s onward (“A Pleasant Shade Of Grey”). The musical tapestry, these two men have woven together is lush, and darkly striking in it’s depth of feeling and atmosphere. Victor is impressive on guitar, with his intricacy, while never sacrificing flow or impact by just showing off his high skill level. You can feel Balich’s influence, on the material is quite evident, his vocals are an intricate part of the fabric gliding in an and out, and all around the instruments with grace and dexterity, completing the music in every way possible. The music builds up the atmosphere, while the vocals crescendo over it all, delivering a satisfying impact every time. That delivery is there, whether it be triumphant, sorrowful or whatever other emotive term you want to use, his vocals just drip with passion and feeling! I have to listen to my Argus album again, I remember him being good, but not this fucking good, maybe it is case of the fantastic material on here that pushed him to new ranges and heights vocally? Balich’s vocal performance, at times, reminds me of the amazing vocal performance by Urban Breed, on Tad Morose’s “A Mended Rhyme” album, which is high praise from me, I assure you. The album closes out, with no less, than three cover songs (Uriah Heep’s “Sunrise”, Beau Brummels “Wolf Of Velvet Fortune” & Black Sabbath’s “After All (The Dead)”). Now, if I had heard the entire hour long album of original material, I would have advised the band do not screw it up, with cover songs. But, it is impressive how well they incorporated their sound, and chose covers, which fit surprisingly well with the rest of the album and comes off like icing on a delicious cake. No, this is not easy listening, by that I mean not immediately accessible, but if you are a fan of the genre’s I mentioned above and open to giving it the requisite attention span needed. Then you will be greatly rewarded, with a hell of an epic emotional, memorable audio journey.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/arduinibalich    http://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/      

 

 

BAPHOMET’S BLOOD

“In Satan We Trust” CD

(Iron Bonehead Records)

 

Italy’s Baphomet’s Blood have released their fourth full length record of thrash and speed metal mayhem. Baphomet’s Blood really know how to create, and write, well written and performed speed metal. The guitars are extremely fast, but are done, with a lot interesting patterns and solos mixed into the songs. The drumming as well, is done with a lot of skill and experience, going from fast and crazed drum arrangements, to a more mid paced range. If you are a fan of the early days of speed metal, then you will definitely want to check this release out, as soon as humanly possible.  - Patrick

https://baphometsbloodofficial.bandcamp.com/   http://www.ironbonehead.de/        

 

 

B.C.:A.D.

“Seven Scrolls / No Cover Covers EP” Cassette Album

(NoVisible Scars Records)

 

B.C:A.D. come to us out of the Connecticut scene, they are a two member band, which consists of Simon Tuozzoli and Phil Swanson of Vestal Claret along with drummer Brian Harris. This is quite different than Vestal Claret, though there are heavy metal elements present, but the music heavily resides in the old school early to mid ‘80s punk crossover style. The music and lyrics have a fun energetic feel, and attitude, which is infectious and you might just find yourself singing along with the choruses. The music is not overly similar, but the vibe of the songs reminds me a little of classic Dead Kennedy’s stuff. Another band that comes to mind is Gang Green, a band I was a pretty big fan of, who were another band who kept the music and vibe light and fun, but always were serious about the music as I believe B.C:A.D. are as well here. Phil Swanson’s vocals are varied at times and great, again bringing to mind early ‘80s punk bands in general mixed with the vocals of Gang Green or Canadian legends Dayglo Abortions. All of these vocal influences mixed together with some of Phil’s heavy metal stylings you have come to know him for in his other bands. Let me just say Phil did a great job and the vocals are a fantastic highlight on this release. There are more early ‘80s punk bands on the tip of my tongue, I am not a hardcore fan, but it is something I do listen to from time to time, but those influences do not seem to want leave the tip of my tongue at the moment. While punk music is certainly the backbone of this band, but I don’t want to understate the heavy metal influence in the guitars a times, they do chug along and can even induce a light headbang now and then. Just some good shit here I am enjoying. As the title would suggest, a little under half of this 44 minute album is from their cover songs ep. You get some entertaining covers of bands like Black Flag, Satan’s Massacre, Landlords, Warfare and Big Boys. This is a great release for fans of those old genres and bands mentioned, but this tape is quite limited, so don’t waste any time in picking up a copy. However, if you do miss out on the physical release, you can still get the mp3 through bandcamp.  - Dale 

https://novisiblescars.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleSacrs/         

 

 

BEGRIME EXEMIOUS

“The Enslavement Conquest” CD

(Dark Descent Records)

 

This is my first time, hearing this Canadian death metal band, but their third album overall. The music starts off, very chaotic and heavy; the guitars are played at extremely fast speeds. The guitarists know how to create and write, some memorable riffs, which range from both extremely fast sections to slow mid paced guitars sections. The drumming is in the same vein, with heavy and fast drumming patterns, that slow to a middle tempo in a few of the songs. The vocals are a mix of death growls and a mix-in of some vicious black metal style screams. If you are a fan of well written, and played, death metal then be sure to pick this new Begrime record today.  - Patrick 

http://begrimeexemious.com/   http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/   

 

 

BELDAM

“Pasung” CD

(Horror Pain Gore Death Productions)

 

Beldam come to us with their sophomore album, second for H.P.G.D. Productions, the band were originally from Virginia and now have transplanted to the opposite coast in Seattle. They play a mixture of doom metal and sludge, for me, it is not always a seamless marriage of these two genres, but largely works out okay. There are some death/doom growls here and there, but the mainstay of the vocalizations is solid sludge style raspy grating vocals, which are pretty good, but I would not have minded if they were a little more energetic and unhinged for lack of a better word. I find that style of vocal best when it has those qualities. The band keep things slow, but more in the slow to moderate pacing, rather than a crushing steamroller crawl tempo of a band like Winter for example. The final track “That Which Consumes You” sees the band coming up with their most interesting track, by far for me, especially with regards to the overall song writing, creativity and flow areas. They create some interesting sounds on this song, such as the wobbly sound effect that becomes a running theme throughout the track, it is like the guitar and vocals have some kind of almost wah-wah bar like sound that is actually really cool, moody vibe. The entire sound of this long song is interestingly structured, creating a kind of mind fucking, crushingly heavy atmosphere. If the entire album was in this vein, and had this level of quality in all aspects, this album would be great. I am hoping they continue in that direction in future. But, unfortunately for me, the rest of the album outside of some brief little moments is just decent. I mean the bulk of it to me, largely sounds like just middle of the road, somewhat uninspired sludge metal, mixed with pretty good (better than the sludge side of thing) doom metal. It is still quality enough, that I think die hards of the sludge/doom that buy a lot of releases will be happy with. However, the more discerning fan that only likes the best bands of this subgenre will not be disappointed, but may come away slightly underwhelmed with this album.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/BeldamOfficial    http://www.horrorpaingoredeath.com/          

 

 

BESTIALIZED

“Termestella Cvltvs” CD

(Satanath Records)

 

Coming to us out of the Colombian black death metal scene is Bestialized, with their third full-length “Termestella Cvltvs”. The music is very chaotic and violent in nature. The guitars are played at a blistering, extremely fast speeds. The lightning speed of the guitars does let up now and then, slowing to a mid-tempo pace in a few of the tracks. The drums follow in the same vein with blasting drumming, the drummer puts in an extremely well done playing, he knows how to write some fantastic patterns that compliment the songs well. The vocals are raw, blackened screams mixed in among some dark death growls. If you are a fan of chaotic black death metal, then look no further Bestialized, with their fine new album.  - Patrick

http://satanath.com/    http://satanath.bandcamp.com/        

 

 

BLOOD

“O Agios Pethane” CD

(Dunkelheit Productions)

 

Blood was a (great - Dale) German band, from the mid-eighties onward making their mark on the scene in the 90s, releasing and playing their brand of brutal death metal with grind influences. The guitars are performed with a lot of crazed and extremely fast guitar chords. The guitarist is not all extreme fast riffs though, he does slow to a more mid pace, in a few of the songs. The drumming is done in the same realm, with both extremely violent drum patterns, but the drummer is not afraid to it down, which keeps the music fresh and interesting. If you are a fan of the early nineties death/grind scene, then definitely favor, and pick up a copy of Blood’s excellent O Agios Pethane now.  - Patrick

http://www.bloood.de/   http://www.dunkelheit-produktionen.de/        

 

 

BLOODSHOT DAWN

“Reanimation” CD

(Hostile Media)

 

Bloodshot Dawn are a newer force to be reckoned with in the field of melodic death metal. Their previous album Demons came out about four years ago, and was given fairly high marks across the board by fans of this style of death metal that maintains fidelity to melody at its core while occasionally accenting compositions with technical flourishes. So, does their recent anticipated release, Reanimation, fall short of, meet, or surpass the established standard? Honestly, while that question is apt for any band that moves forward with their project toward new outputs, I believe listeners of this album should take into consideration the almost completely new lineup for this album. Josh McMorran, guitarist and vocalist, is the only remaining original member of the band. Some slightly different artistic choices are going to be made for this album that will sound different when compared to Demons, like the drifting guitar melodies that we hear in such tracks on Reanimation as “Survival Evolved”. Even McMorran’s vocal technique is marginally different for the first few tracks, abandoning for the most part the throaty death growls of Demons for vocals that are more clearly discerned. Upon the fourth track, “Upon the Throne of Fear”, though, we see a return to form as it begins with much more menacing riffing and deeper vocals. As this song progresses, higher-pitched shrieks accompany the growls, adding some more texture to this layer of the composition than in the former tracks. This more multifaceted approach remains consistent for the remainder of the album, making it a more familiar and enjoyable listen for fans of the band. The first few tracks are not necessarily poorly done, they just seem to miss the mark for the standard that Bloodshot Dawn had established with previous releases. Having a new lineup may have contributed to these initial departures, but the album as whole more than makes up for them if you are not too keen on the first few tracks.  – Aaron 

https://hostilemedia.bandcamp.com/album/reanimation     https://www.hostilemedia.net       

 

 

BLOODSTRIKE

“Execution of Violence” CD

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

I'm on the second song, as I begin this review. The first thing I noticed was the production. It has that "Swedish Melodic Death Metal" sound, is what I call it. I'm not sure that's the "proper term"...but that is what I have in mind. I use to not like that sound, but I'm open to more things these days, it seems. It's - actually - quite powerful. HEAVY! The songs, here, however - are becoming quite redundant, already. I'm on track three. It just sounds like the same song, basically. The vocals are really mundane. Lacking quite a lot of intensity. The songs' rhythms are pretty boring. I guess this is kind of a Hypocrisy sound overall. Yeah. Fourth song and the basic premise of song one is still being rehashed over and over. Song five - same. Where's the variety? Where's the experimentation? The vocals, I'm not fond of whatsoever. No dynamics at all. Yeah, this is boring, to me. If you like been there, done that "Old School Death Metal" without any creativity - then, this is for you. The only thing that stands out on this material is the production. Superb. Heavy as a four hour heart attack! Or - maybe - a stroke? Shivering and shuttering. Body heaving...gasping...clutching...yawn. Die, already. Be gone from my tortured mind!  - Anders

https://bloodstrike.bandcamp.com/    http://www.redefiningdarkness.com/        

 

 

BUZZARD CANYON

“Hellfire & Whiskey” CD

(Salt Of The Earth Records)

 

Buzzard Canyon come out of the gates in style, with the song “Highway Run”, which embodies what they are all about. Which is a brand of hard rocking stoner music they call Camaro Rock. I have to admit this first song is easily the best song on the album. It is a real anthem type tune, which for me is a classic in the making and gets you hooked early. I suspect that they probably open with this song live too, as I would bet it really gets some heads nodding and some arms unfolded. “Hellfire & Whiskey” is more on the stoner rock side, but there is clearly a classic doom metal influence (Sabbath, Trouble etc…) strongly running through this band, alongside the fuzzy southern blues tinged driving guitars. The main vocals are handled by Amber Leigh, her voice really fits the music well, there is no commercial or angelic vocals here, she has that traditional stoner / doom style with a little attitude and touches of raunch mixed in with some cleaner singing. There are also some male lead vocals on a couple tracks, those are decent as well, but I prefer Amber taking the reigns vocally. I am not going to lie, the rest of the material after the opening track, while good, never comes that close to matching that fucking awesome song. But having said that, there are some good moments to be had and it is a pretty enjoyable listen as a whole.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/BuzzardCanyon/    http://www.saltoftheearthrecords.com/        

 

 

CASKET ROBBERY

“Evolution Of Evil” CD

(Mortal Music)

 

This listen was very interesting, and not what I was expecting, it is more than I was expecting and a pleasant surprise. The entire album, save a song or two is about different serial killers. But the songs are presented in a less conventional style, almost a horror theater feel, to the proceedings. Yet, it is undeniably still a death metal album, but much more than your run of the mill death metal album. It is hard not to think of my all-time fave bands, with this concept, and that would be the legend band Macabre! Who carved out a place in UG metal infamy with their brand of equally creative and theatrical “Murder Metal”. Obviously the connection is strong, with the serial killer theme, running through an album is / was something pioneered by Macabre, as is tailoring each song into a roller coaster ride of mental audio theater with each song reflecting that killers horrors. The biggest difference with Casket Robbery they do not bring a humourous side their creation like Macabre. Having said all of that, this is where the comparisons begin and end, as Casket has a different method and approach to their metal sound and ambient theatrical approach. “Evolution Of Evil” musically evokes a very dark, morbid and foreboding aura, and the songs while keeping a central thread are quite diverse from each other. As I mentioned, I would call the style death metal, but they break the conventions here and seamlessly add dramatic elements with accent voices, instrumental touches, audio serial killer interview samples, and creative song structuring flair. They do this while keeping that brutal death metal edge which holds the entire carnage together down to it’s foundations. They also keep things very catchy and memorable, they invoke the darkness and debauchery of the acts the lyrics speak to, but always keep in mind for the lack of a better term the headbang factor that must make them a very entertaining live band. The main vocals are deep growls, which are very decipherable to the point you will be singing along to certain wonderfully crafted choruses and random lines in your head upon repeated listens. The production reflects the music very well; it is dark and heavy with a gritty edge. I have to be honest; I did not anticipate this album being anywhere near this fucking good going into this review. I do not think I could possibly recommend this enough for fans first and foremost of brutal death metal, who also like bands like Macabre, The Accüsed and even King Diamond this is a must have!  - Dale 

http://casketrobbery.bandcamp.com/    http://www.mortalmusicinc.com      

 

 

CIST

“The Frozen Casket” EP

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

Here’s an album that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser for people like me who are nostalgic for good ol’ Floridian death metal. You’ll know most of what to expect sonically on this album if you’re a fan of Death and/or Obituary, but I would encourage you to give this album a listen regardless because while it does sound like one of the best executed homages to this scene of OSDM that I have heard in a while, it still sounds like a completely fresh record all the same. Technique and skill are what set the Russian band Cist apart from their contemporaries; their riff composition shows ample proficiency in this vein of death metal, as does their incorporation of intriguing and audible bass work throughout the album. There is also refreshing, yet frugal use of sound effects and voice overs on this album, which, while sparsely distributed across the tracks, adds a lot of flavor to the presentation like some obscure herb on an otherwise already fantastic plate of food. The whole setup is invigorating, especially with Vitaly Luschenkov’s vocals ripping through the mix with both transparency and brutality reminiscent of John Tardy and/or Chuck Schuldiner (depending on which track you’re listening to). The production quality of this EP certainly permits all of these elements to be heard and enjoyed to their fullest potential without sounding too sterilized. Cist’s excellent songcrafting does not stop at the execution, though, but rather also includes the lyrical content. So far this year we have seen some pretty interesting lyrical topics tackled by death metal bands (lookin’ at you, Slugdge), and Cist are baring their artistic integrity in this arena as well with some of their tracks gathering inspiration from cell biology as an avenue or metaphor for sociocultural/societal critique. Overall, the package that is The Frozen Casket secures Cist’s place as an act to keep an eye on in the coming years since it displays abundant potential for an awesome future full-length debut.  – Aaron

https://cist.bandcamp.com/    http://www.redefiningdarkness.com/        

 

 

CONFESSOR A.D.

“Too Late To Pray” MCD

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)

 

This is the debut release from new French band Confessor A.D. coming out on the long running and dedicated Nihilistic Holocaust Records. This mini-album consists of five tracks of old school blackened death metal, with some excellent healthy hints of thrash influence weaving it’s way in and out of the proceedings. Confessor A.D. definitely embody the very late ‘80s / early ‘90s Scandinavian and Netherlands sound, which is clearly coursing through their veins. The pacing is not lightning quick, most of the time, reminding me both in pacing and structurally of the late ‘80s thrash influenced musicians who were starting to play this new death metal style emerging at the time. You could hear and feel the transition, and early first steps of figuring out this then new style, being caught between the old and new in a charming and interesting way, at least to me. I remember that time period well and loved those bands that had a firm foot in both styles, keeping their thrash roots, but adding these fresh brutal elements. When I mention the middle pacing, back then a lot of bands were more into the atmospheric vibe, being sure to leave room for a bit of melody and just room musically to breathe, and the listener to digest, so to speak, rather than just going as fast as possible and brutal as possible which was the next step in the death metal evolution. The vocals follow suit with amalgamation of the gruff thrash yell and the dm growl, keeping everything entirely intelligible and easy to still follow along with the lyrics. With all of the old ‘80s/’90s styles coming back around in the 2000s, it is good to see this often left behind, pivotal seemingly viewed as a relic style, getting some attention from a young band who does it some justice here.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/nihilisticzinedistro    https://nihilisticholocaustrecs.bandcamp.com        

 

 

CWEALM

“Odes To No Hereafter” CD

(Dusktone Records)

 

I am guessing I am not the only one, who is thrown off by this Swedish one man bands name, but apparently it is an Old English word meaning “death”. That one man goes by the name Astraeus, he handles all instruments and vocals. I can appreciate him not using a fucking drum machine, as he went all out and hired a session musician in the form of Jocke Wallgren, the drummer in Amon Amarth. I guess I would have to label the music on here, as mid 90s melodic and symphonic black death metal. There is a lot going on here, there are slight hints of influence from other exotic genres like middle eastern tidbits, at times it even seems to venture into progressive territory. Despite the keyboards being a little higher in the mix, than I would like, the main thing you will probably notice is how everything is written and performed at high speed, with only occasional brief somewhat slowed down sections. That speed goes through everything from the blitzkrieg drumming, to the hyper speed tremolo picked guitars and even a smattering of guitar solos / fills, also performed at a frenzied pace. As good as this is, and it is good, and well done. I can’t help but think by slowing down a bit more at times, and letting things breathe, leaving room for all the instruments would take the songs to another level. But this is the bands debut and it is a strong debut at that, it is impressive how Astraeus manages to keep things as heavy and dark as he does, when considering the extremely high level of melodicism on display, which fights with and threatens to lighten up those elements. An impressive release, considering it is the bands first and only release, not even a prior demos or an ep, they come out of the gate very strong and I look forward to hearing how Astraeus progresses from here on out.  - Dale 

http://www.cwealm.com/    http://www.dusktone.eu/        

 

 

DEADLY CARNAGE

“Through The Void, Above The Suns” CD

(ATMF / A Sad Sadness Song Records)

 

Italy’s Deadly Carnage return to the fray with their fourth release “Through The Void, Above The Suns”. They start things off with a short introduction of chants and screams, then the music picks up, beginning with a mid paced to slow-ish doom style with some moderately tempo black metal elements sifted into the musical mix. The guitar work is accomplished with some very well performed patterns, moving within the aforementioned slower black doom style. The vocals are a mixture of whispering low end vocals, but also add some screams and hollering throughout the body of the album. The band does do a good job of combining newer generation black metal and doom influences, so if you are a fan of these genres or if you are familiar with Deadly Carnage then be sure to check this release out soon.  - Patrick

https://deadlycarnage.bandcamp.com/    https://www.atmf.net/commilitones/a-sad-sadness-song/        

 

 

DEATH OF KINGS

“Kneel Before None” CD

(Boris Records)

 

Atlanta’s Death Of Kings return, with a brand new full length release “Kneel Before None”, featuring nine songs of intense and savage thrash anthems. The vocals are a mix of high pitched screams and some raw death growls used in a few of the songs. The guitar work is done with a lot of skill and good songwriting ability. The music goes from hyperspeed fast guitar riffs, to a more controlled mid paced style. If you are a fan of Death Of Kings earlier work then be sure to pick up a copy of this new release. If you are new to this band, take the most extreme aspects of Kreator, Slayer, Exodus along with the bands ability to put their own touches within the solid barbaric thrash metal making this album one you guys need to check out today.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/deathofkingsmetal    https://borisrecords.bandcamp.com/         

 

 

DEATHGOD MESSIAH

“Phallic Flagellation” Cassette EP

(NoVisible Scars Records)

 

After a nice torturous, flagellating and unsettling intro, this Massachusetts band launch into a harsh and murky brand of warring black death metal mayhem. The vocals are ferocious, evil gurgling growls and inhuman snarls, clearly conjured up from the pits of hell itself! I mean, I have not heard vocals this bestial and possessed, since the early glorious days of Impaled Nazerene. The pacing of the guitars and drums are relentless and vicious in their intent, but there is actually more nuanced guitar work than you would expect from a blackened war metal band, which adds a lot of depth to the sound. I can hear, amongst this barrage of heavy fucking death metal guitar riff bits, some actual short parts where they slow down to almost a standstill glooming up the atmosphere, not to mention we get a couple wild frenzied guitar leads! Speaking of influence, the three most profound influences I hear are the early works of the legendary bands Blasphemy, Beherit and Impaled Nazarene, all melded together in superb fashion. Listening to this, I feel like I am experiencing a depraved Occult ritual mixed, with an orgy in audio form. It has covered me in vomit, blood and cum and I do not want the experience to end.  - Dale 

https://novisiblescars.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/deathgodmessiah    

 

 

DECOMPOSED

“Wither” CD

(Chaos Records)

 

Sweden’s Decomposed are back with their third cd “Wither”. This is my first encounter with Decomposed, so I can not say, if this is different from their previous releases. This is a very good sounding band; there is not a whole lot of the early Swedish death metal sound in the music, but it is well written and performed. The guitars are played with a little variety, going from a heavy slow pace to a mid paced style in some of the songs, but the guitarist is not afraid to go for faster chaotic sections at times. Whether the guitarist is playing extremely fast, or at a more controlled middle pace, it displays a level of experience and talent. The vocals are heavy death metal growls that really fit this bands music perfectly. This is a great release, filled with heavy mid tempo death metal, with some faster guitars and drum sections mixed into the songs.  - Patrick 

https://soundcloud.com/Decomposed-swe   https://www.facebook.com/chaosrecords       

 

 

DEFIANT

“Time Isn’t Healing” CD

(Ferrrum Records)

 

The Ukranian Defiant play what is commonly known these days as power metal. Back in my earlier days, power metal was a bit of different animal, the base of old power metal and heavy metal is still there, but these days power metal is commonly applied to very melodic heavy metal bands which use liberal amounts of keyboards. Within those parameters, Defiant plays this style and they play it well, the talent is there and the song writing is pretty impressive. I enjoy Defiant the most, when they put the synth slightly more in background (I wish they did more of this), letting the guitars gallop and showcase themselves with some good chugging heaviness. They keep the energy high and the flow silky, everything blends together skillfully with some interesting structuring on display, while never forgetting to keep things very melodic. “Time Isn’t Healing” is the bands first attempt, to translate their lyrics, and conversely their vocals into English. They seem to have changed singers in the process, replacing the previous lady who handled the duties, with a new male counterpart. Considering they apparently do not really speak much English, it must have been quite a challenge to make this move to reach more people. Due to that transition, I try to give them a break in this area, the vocalist you can tell has tried very hard to translate this performance in this more universal language. It can be a tad clunky at times, his accent bleeds through pretty strong (this could make it an acquired taste for some), but generally it is very well done and impressive under the circumstances. The only thing is, with this kind of music you kind of need a singer with a lot of range, and variation in his voice, vocalist Stanislav does not posses that sort of range but he does what he can and he has the lower end of register well covered and varies things decently within his limited range. But as I said on the musical side, and the song writing side of things, Defiant is nearing world class within this newer power metal movement. I think fans of newer melodic synth heavy / power metal will really dig this album.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/DefiantBand/    http://www.ferrrum.com/       

 

 

DEITY

“Deity” CD

(CDN Records)

 

This is my first time hearing about this Canadian band and my introduction is their debut full length recording. First off, it is good to see record label CDN is still going strong, back when I first had contact with them a long, long time ago; it was called the Civilian Death Network. I believe they shortened it to initials, because some idiots in the Canadian gov’t and elsewhere, thought it must be some kind of terrorist organization Ugh…haha. Anyway, on to Deity, who have unleashed a power house of a brutal death metal debut album. I am struck right away by the speed and brutality of the thick churning guitar riffing. It blew back my hair, so to speak, and was only a sneak peek at some of the great guitar work to come. The second item that caught my attention was the tight as fuck, super precise drumming. So, I check into their bio after that thought, where I realize they have hired drumming god Flo Mournier, as a session musician to play the beats on this album! You can definitely hear the bands Canadian influences strongly from bands like Kataklysm and Cryptopsy. They probably are a little more musically mournful and introspective than those bands in some aspects though. By the way, I do not mention Cryptopsy only due to the Mournier drumming, as you can hear it in the guitars and song structuring as well that they are a big influence. The vocals are really good deep ass growls, making me think of the roar of a savage bear going into for an attack. Yes, I dig the vocals, I do not say this often about death metal records, but they are actually a little under used at times. There are no less than three instrumental tracks on here; the first is a short gloomy and beautiful piano intro track to set off the album. The second instrumental is an epic whirlwind of a classy death song, which balances adventurous technical playing, alongside straight ahead brutality and atmosphere. That song is possibly the bands finest section of the record (alongside album ending opus “In Turmoil”) and displays the bands top end song writing skills. The third instrumental song, “Of Time” is a guitar only instrumental and I could not help but think it may have come about due to a cash flo(w) problem, if you catch my drift, as in they could only afford to use Flo for so much time and had to fill in time. The album is nearly an hour long, so I guess time fill idea of mine does not make that much sense, but it feels a little like this song is that. Which is not to say the instrumental is not good because I did enjoy it, as it is pretty poignant and moody, but it also drags on for far too long and could have easily been cut to half of it’s nearly seven minute run time and been much more effective because of it. I do forget sometimes this is a new band and this is their debut release, it is easy to forget that fact with this level of quality. All the same, I can assume some of the necessary reworking and editing, which would take this excellent young band to another level, will likely come with time as this young band mature as song writers. That is my one and only critique, really, on an otherwise impressive debut by this up and coming future death metal beast.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/DeityMetalCA    http://www.cdnrecords.com/         

 

 

DESOLATE SHRINE

“Deliverance From The Godless Void” CD

(Dark Descent Records)

 

Hmm... This is labeled as "Death Metal"? This sounds more like "Black Metal", to me. I'm kind of liking it, really. The production is a bit "thin" compared to the last album I reviewed - but, the song structures - here - are more interesting, to me. But yeah...this is kind of "Blackened Death", maybe? More "Black Metal", in my opinion. Even the production seems more to that area of the spectrum, really. Kind of early Samael? A little Handful of Hate? The flowing of the music is pleasing...albeit, not that "original sounding". The vocals are a bit muffled in the mix. Which is fine. They fit fine the way they are. A little more pronounced than "Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk" by Emperor...but - slightly - reminiscent of that? The music isn't to that caliber but it has "feeling" to it, at least. There's a longing in a Transylvanian mountain range forest type of vibe to this music. "Desolate Shrine" is a good name for this band. They've captured the atmosphere, here, quite readily. This music SOUNDS like a "desolate shrine". Artistically, this is a fine achievement. Kudos! These are some long songs, I've just noticed. This one is over nine minutes! Wow! Almost ten, actually! It's got a driving force to it. A menacing presence! A ghost circling it's victim...swirling...swirling...arms outstretched...grasping maniacally. Haunting chaos - madness! Insidious!  - Anders

https://www.facebook.com/desolateshrine/    http://www.darkdescentrecords.com/          

 

 

DISTANT SUN

“Into The Nebula” CD

(Metalism Records)

 

Distant Sun comes out of Russia presenting their sophomore album for perusal. The band play power metal, with touches of thrash influence flittering in and out, here and there. They are clearly skilled musicians, capable of creating some good riffs and nuanced emotive and introspective guitar parts, as well as some solid lead guitar and fill work. Within this framework, you will find that melodies abound, which are often of the bright, bouncy and happy variety. I must admit I am not always the biggest fan of what they consider the new power metal sound (which for me is veering off what old goats like me considered power metal back in the day), but I find newer power metal is at it’s least desirable to this listener when the melodies are on the happy and lighter side. Though I will admit at other times, I am saved, as now and then they mix in heavier thrash elements that remind me of Annihilator or Iced Earth. An example of this is in the middle section of probably my most liked track on the album, entitled “Andromeda”, where it really picks up the song and gives it some guts and much needed sandpaper. It is during these moments, and sections, Distant Sun are at their best, unfortunately those cool thrash moments are too few for me. I would say some of the more clear influences I can hear are from bands like Blind Guardian, Angra, Gamma Ray, and Running Wild during their “Victory” period. The vocalist, kind of sounds like a mix between middle-era (Load / Re-Load) James Hetfield, and Dave Mustaine, mixed together, which at times works and other times just did not work for me. The pronunciation of the vocalist, much like the overall musical compositions themselves, seems over thought, too forced and lacking a certain needed flow. It is a mixed bag for me, some stuff is brilliant, while other elements I would be okay with deleting from their sound altogether and going back to the drawing board haha. Despite that, I could see a fair number of newer power metal style fans, who also like a little thrash getting into this more than I did.  - Dale 

https://www.facebook.com/distantsunband    http://metalism.net/       

 

 

DOMGÅRD

“Ödelagt” CD

(Carnal Records)

 

The infamous Swedish black metal band Domgård are back, after a five year absence, presenting their third album "Ödelagt". The band formed back in 1997, soon afterwards became notorious in the scene and outside of it, when nearly the whole band were imprisoned for arson after burning down a number of churches. Their sentences ranged from 2 ½ to 5 years each in prison. The singer, a couple years after his five years in prison ended, took his own tumultuous life when he hung himself from a bridge. So, as you can see not even counting the music, the band has quite the turbulent and chaotic history. I am not sure what brought on the five year gap between albums, but Domgård have stormed back on to the scene with an excellent hour long album. The music on here is surely rooted and steeped, as you may expect, with the early ‘90s Scandinavian black metal sound and tradition. Anyone who knows me well enough knows I am a sucker for this time period in bm and this sound. Domgård use that sound as their base at all times, but are actually more imaginative as far as using time changes, structuring and the odd eccentric elements (while still employing traditional instrumentation) than your usual second wave of black metal band would venture to do. They also incorporate some small viking metal type tropes with some cleaner gang sung choruses and musical nuances. As well, this is not new or different, but I also hear some moderate Celtic Frost influence such as you might hear on some Dark Throne releases ala “Panzerfaust”, though not overly pronounced or over used. No, in fact, despite the frost dripped black metal hate and darkness clearly present, this ends up being a moody, somewhat atmosphere driven record at times. This is partly due to the epic sixteen minute second to last song entitled “Förgånget”, as well as album closer “Ødhe Vi”. All in all, they furthered their malevolent legacy, by delivering a strong, multi-faceted yet decidedly dark and evil sounding black metal record that is worth your time.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/DOMGARD    http://www.carnalrecords.com/          

 

 

DRUID LORD

“Grotesque Offerings” CD

(Hells Headbangers)

 

Druid Lord are finally back, I am not sure what caused the long delay (five years since the last EP and eight years since the debut album), but was it worth the wait, let’s find out. For those unfamiliar, with this Floridian band, they play death doom and have been doing so since 2010. But the members, especially guitarist Pete Slate & bassist/vocalist Tony Blakk, have been in some excellent bands mostly together for a very long time. We are talking all the way back to the start of the 1990s with bands like Acheron and Equinox. This is a little indulgent geek out moment, for me, but Pete Slate was the main guitarist for one of my all-fucking-time favourite albums with Acheron’s “Rites Of The Black Mass”, released way back in 1992. I have always liked Acheron, but in my opinion, that was their best release and their sound changed a bit after that, which I now wonder if it was due to the departure of Slate, as I hear some underlying “Rites…” masterful guitar sounds/tones on here. Okay, sorry, now back to the album at hand. It is a record that is a depraved mix of crushing sinister doom as it’s foundation, upon that foundation are building blocks of straight up brutal death metal. There are some extremely well done and tasteful elements, more accents of old school ’80s heavy metal (ala Omen, Witchfinder General, Satan, Lucifer’s Friend etc..) in the guitars, along with some nice fills and soloing that almost seem like they should not belong in this music. But those elements are so seamlessly woven into the into the death doom maelstrom, that it becomes hard to imagine this music without them. As far as the death and doooom influences I hear things like old Celtic Frost, Winter, early Autopsy, early Paradise Lost, Goatlord, Grave, Necrovore all combined in a very brutal and filthy fashion. Yes, it is as cool as those descriptions sound; the atmosphere this creates is extremely moody, haunting and suffocating in a damn good way. The vocals are good extremely decipherable growls, which are half sung / half almost spoken word, they add to the creepy vibe and compliment the cruel gloomy music so nicely. The lyrics and various movie audio clips are interlaced smoothly into the music, serving as a sort of love letter to some of the old great evil and degenerate 1970s exploitation and horror B movies upholding another old metal tradition. If you can not tell, the verdict is yes! This was worth the wait, and yes, it is damn good and you should check it out if you love brutal death/doom with some heavy metal touches. Here is to hoping the wait for the next release will be much shorter!  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/DruidDeathCult/    https://shop-hellsheadbangers.com/