"Reflections Of Horror” Demo Cassette

(Caligari Records)


This Californian band is brand new and just hot off the presses. But the two members that make up this duo are anything but green around the gills, in the UG scene, as they span many years and sub-genres. These two have been in hardcore, crust, thrash, death and grindcore bands over the years. Those two members are Federico Davila (who plays or has been in Unurnment, Primal Rite, Permanent Ruin, DeadEyedStare etc…) and Jeremy Meier (from current or former bands like Cøndition, Sanctum, Primal Rite, Scalped, Yadokai, Ritual Control, Effluxus etc…). Abysmalist play old school brutalizing death metal, but not in the death metal way you may assume filled with grind and blast beats, no they play more middle paced death metal with doomy touches. They place an emphasis on creating a very morbid, creepy graveyard rituals type atmosphere and aura, which permeates the whole sound. Some bands that come to mind as I listen to this demo are Obituary, Asphyx, Grave, Autopsy (Mental Funeral era), Bolt Thrower, Benediction (ala Grand Leveller), early Incantation, Morgoth etc… I dig the deep growling vocals, they have that guttural, garbled edge to them, but still solidly enunciated enough to follow along and decipher much of the lyrical content. Yeah man, I fucking love those vocals; they even throw in lyrical echoing backing (clean) vocals in a spot or two that I enjoyed. I would not really call them a headbang or moshpit type of band, but they do have sections here and there like in the songs “Chain Ripper” and “Black Lacquer” that got me nodding and headbanging like a madman with those killer brutal infectious riffs and catchy song structuring, while still impressively retaining that dark, sinister cruelty in the sound. I enjoyed this demo and look forward to their next release, maybe a seven inch or will they go for it with a full length? Either one sounds good to me!  - Dale

https://abysmalist.bandcamp.com/releases    http://www.caligarirecords.com/          




"A Cold Night’s Death” Demo Tape 2019

(Nekrassious Tapes)


This is the debut release (the European version of this tapes release) for Nekrassious Tapes label from France. The release itself comes out of the great South American UG scene. This Argentinian band at the time of this recording was a duo consisting of Annabelle (drums) and Gisselle (guitar & vocals), who are twin sisters, which is pretty damn cool to see sisters doing a band like this together. The music itself is rough, dirty and loosely played low-fi yet quite enjoyable and even infectiously listenable death metal. This tape feels like a demo I would have tape traded for at the start of the ‘90s and I like that. The musical whole has this dark, evil aura across it with some really heavy slower riffing mixed with some fast biting rhythmic riffing sections, which remind me of some classic demos by North American and European bands from that early ‘90s time period. The growled vocals are semi-decipherable, but keep a strong obscured whispery edge to them and fit the music very well. If you are into the South American scene, demos (you should be damn it!), cassettes and old school raw death metal then I think you will definitely dig this release. It is pro printed and comes with a pin and sticker.  - Dale

https://apofenia.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/Nekrassious-Tapes         




"Beware” Demo Cassette

(Self Release)


This is an interesting recording, there is very little included in the promo package I received from the band. However, after a little digging, I was able to find out this band was formed out of the embers of Unhallowed Torment from Florida, this recording was made in Florida yet the band appears to now be based out of Tennessee (north of Knoxville). Adding to that background is this recording was actually done on analog way back in 2013, but due to problems with the studio owner and then chaos within the band (a couple moves to different states and a death, more on that in a second) the recording sat dormant unreleased until now. The band recently was able to secure their own mixing board and other equipment and finally mix the recording some seven years later. The death I spoke of was when the band was in New Orleans, after moving from Florida, where member Bestial Revelations was apparently gun downed in 2017 in an exchange of fire. Bestial Revelations (J. McBride) does appear on this recording as far as I can tell. So finally on to the music itself, my apologies, I am sucker for band history and especially a storied history. Beware compose and perform old school black metal, which probably has it’s roots more in the first wave of black metal than the second (Scandinavian) wave. A few bands, in addition to those ‘80s first wave bm bands, which come to mind as similar reference points are the early ‘90s works of Ancient Rites, Varathron, Absu, Master’s Hammer, Grand Belial’s Key demo, Mortuary Drape, Necromantia, early Destroyer 666 etc… They have a touch of their own sound in there, but that is what I hear and I am a big devotee of those bands time period, so it should come as no surprise I enjoyed this demo tape. I should mention in addition to the above description, they do use keyboards and sound effects (wind, bells etc..), but only as sinister atmospheric accents to the main music. They also incorporate at times a very doomy metal element into in their dark sound, and do generally keep a slower, deliberate stalking pace. The vocals are great too (also of that time period mentioned above), they are very murky and obscured, haunting whispery black rasps and yells that create a roiling, evil sounding malignant aura. I enjoyed this tape, now I can only hope the wait for the next recording will not be so long next time around. I could see a label picking up this recording, but until then contact Beware and order a copy ASAP, as it says my copy is #25/50.  - Dale





"Symptoms Of Annihilation - Stage 2” CD EP

(Self Released)


Brain Stem hails from my homeland of Canada, even more specifically my home province, and even the same area that used to be my stomping grounds for live gigs. I moved to the USA in late 1998, so surely there is no connection with this band back to my day? Actually, there is as I seen two of the members past bands (bass player of Section VIII & drummer of Dead Jesus) play live in Edmonton around the ‘97/98 era. Okay, so that only means shit to me mostly, but still noteworthy considering we are talking 22 years later!! Those old goats are still kicking in the UG scene, and so am I haha. I must confess when I read the tag “experimental death metal”, I had worried sugar plum visions of wall to wall synth, goofy audio samples, non-traditional instrumentation, lots of clean female vocals and watered down, softened melododeath with pretty melodies. What did I get? None of that shit thankfully! No, Brain Stem keep things heavy and brutal never sacrificing either of those key elements to advance their experimentation, but instead it is the song structuring itself, time changes, speed modifications and creativity that deservedly earns them the experimental tag. This is the kind of experimentation I can get behind, while the music is technical and very much so at times, it also brings the speed and aforementioned brutality that should please straight up death metal fans with it’s high quality, skillful and memorable material. The vocalist Jessy Leduc kills it with deep infectious growls, which are forced to stay on their toes to match the music’s ever churning, morphing song structures and consistently altering speed shifting – well done sir. The music to me has a respectful foundation in the past death metal ala classic ‘90s era you and I love, but also at the same time looks to take you into the future with some new twists and turns. This EP comes recommended from me for death metal fans new and old.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/BrainStemBand    https://brainstemmetal.bandcamp.com/music         




“Capricorn” CD & LP

(Self Released)


Their band name is the French word for funeral procession. This is something a little different, not sure I liked it at first to be honest, but a few more listens in a row has been changing my mind and winning me over. Cortége compose and perform (using the word play seems wrong here somehow) very atmospheric and ultra slow moving doomy droning metal. There are also subtle doses of electronica, which sounds like it comes straight out of ‘70s progressive rock and moody dramatic sci-fi movie soundtracks from that same period (have you ever heard the brilliant soundtrack to Beyond The Black Rainbow? That sort of vibe). It is minimalist in every aspect and instrument, but so slow moving it is almost like if you think of the creepy audio version of time-lapse photography. This album does feel, to me, like auditory artwork is being painted across the canvas of my mind as I listen to “Capricorn”. Despite how slow it is going, you can tell it is based on a certain amount of melody and musicality which has been stretched out almost beyond belief, as opposed to the mindless droning that most bands in that style do. I guess I should mention this is instrumental music; there are sounds of crows, bells and things like that, but vocals, not so much. When I say droning, don’t get the wrong idea here, it is not that grating, noise drone, no it is far more smooth and flowing than that, literally like taking a doom metal band and slowing it down by a factor of a hundred. The epic length 17 minute title track that finishes off the album, makes me think a lot of if a droning doomy metal band that incorporated sound the gloomy soundtrack from Twin Peaks into a song. For me, this is something different than what most bands are doing, it is not original sounding per see yet it is different as they take elements that tried and true, manipulating them into some thing you probably have not heard before in this way. But it is good; if you like hypnotic musical soundscapes then Cortége will scratch that itch in a satisfying way.  - Dale

https://cortege.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/cortegeatx          




“Insect Politics" CD

(Sewer Mouth Records / Self Release)


This is a Salt Lake City, Utah band whose previous EP I reviewed in CA a few years back. That last release was pure old school middle ‘80s thrash metal goodness. I would say on this, their second full-length album, the band still have that high quality traditional thrash core going strong, but maybe it is the song structuring or heavier production, or maybe even both that I hear a little bit of death metal style punch. I also hear a more looseness and in the music and attitude that feels a bit punk rock to me. It is a real killer mix though, and make no mistake thrash is still king in their sound; and those vocals still absolutely scream 1980s thrash. There are some smoking solos and nice guitar fills mixed in to their blitzing juggernaut songs. The music on here is heavy and fast, but also really catchy and memorable with some good lyrics, which are infectious and hard not to sing and nod your head along with (look no further than the opening track “Brain Bugs” haha). I think the band has also done a good job with increasing the emotion and atmosphere that bleeds through songwriting. Before I wrap this up, I should mention the killer cover artwork courtesy of Axel Hermann (who is an UG metal staple artist that has done artwork for the likes of Asphyx, Bloodbath, Demolition Hammer, Grave, Morgoth, Runemagick, Samael, Unleashed, Wargasm and many more) is fantastic, so full of detail, colour and is very affecting to examine. But back to the music I have probably said enough, but this comes recommended for fans of old school thrash and metal in general.  - Dale

https://deathblow1.bandcamp.com/music    https://www.facebook.com/deathblowofficial          




"Rise King Death” Demo CD EP

(Self Release)


This was an interesting and welcome sight in my mailbox, and now worming it is way into my ears and taking possession of me. Dogma Omega is a new-ish band rising from the German land with a storied metal tradition with a very fertile UG metal scene the last decade or two. These demons play old school death metal mixed with the heart of dark ‘80s thrash metal to the bone and I am stoked about that. This trio draws inspiration from some of that amazing early ‘90s Swedish dm, a little of that punishing ‘ole Australian barbarity from the same time period, and a solid dose of early pounding Floridian death metal. This is all wrapped in a cloak of ‘80s thrash ala Slayer, Dark Angel, Sadus, early Exodus and Possessed. You know the good stuff. It makes for a nice mix of so many crucial bands and styles that made me into the life long metal maniac I am – so you know I am enjoying this ride! There are some killer, crushing riffs on here and some nice scrumptious guitar solo attacks. The band employs an interesting line up of dm growls from the early ‘90s Swede style, to the early to mid ‘90s American style. There is this interesting growled voice that is nasally, but not that usual high nasal sound, no, this is low and guttural but almost sounds like the singer has a bad sinus cold, it is pretty unique sounding to me. They of course also mix in some vocal tinges of traditional dark thrash style whispery and gruff edges to the voices at times. Dogma Omega really knows inside and out the ancient underground scene and metal traditions and attitude, so if that appeals to you contact the band pronto. There are five tracks on this EP for a run time of about twenty minutes of music. The price (including sticker) is €7.50 Germany, €9.50 worldwide- Dale

https://www.facebook.com/DogmaOmega    dogma-omega@posteo.de         




"Ergodic” CD EP



This ep release is the bands first release period as a band. When you hear the level intricacy and skill displayed on the fifteen minutes of music is highly impression, showing the members of this North Carolina band clearly have been around the UG scene paying their dues in a number of bands over the last number of years. Ergodic compose extremely energetic and intense technical brutal death metal. The multifaceted musicianship, the speed it is played at is as impressive as the fact they main good flow in the songs and keep the brutality quotient of their music high. The vocals of Zach Senicola are commanding and he has a solid arsenal change up in his guttural growls whilst spitting them out often rapid fire and deftly with the stop on a dime time changes, twisting and turning speed shifts are difficult ask, but the man is up to the task. This is an extremely impressive debut and fans of technical and brutish dm need to turn an ear in this direction of Ergodic posthaste.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/ergodicmetal    https://ergodic.bandcamp.com         




"Reverse Engineering” MCD

(Self Release)


Inhumanity Vortex sent me a physical promo disc of this mini-album in the mail and it is much appreciated, it shows how serious this Polish band is with promoting their music in this day and age. That is not to even mention the pestilence that has been sweeping the globe this year that only further complicates these things. The band has been around releasing material since 2009, functioning through Tom D. as a one man until 2017 under the name Inhumanity (changed Inhumanity Vortex and expanding the line-up to five members); they released three demos over those years. All of the visual and lyrical concepts deal with futuristic and/or dystopian sci-fi themes, which is something I have always been a fan of, so that is all welcome to me. The music itself is death metal, but of the very crisp clean variety though, it is also very heavy and extremely intricate. The song structuring here is superb and elaborate, it is easy to see that a lot of time and careful planning went into it, but the thing I like about that is the song flow and memorability is always a top consideration and never stifled by that intricate musical web presented. The band in addition to being complex, also adds inventive progressive writing elements and various imaginative sci-fi electronic feeling FX layering, samples and synth accompaniments. Does it sound like a lot to make mix in? Well, it is, it will surely take you a number of listens to hear it all and have it all sink into your cerebral cortex in order to get the full effect of what this talented band is striving for. It really does feel at times like you are listening to a moody, intense serious sci-fi movie soundtrack that your mind, upon repeated listening will start play in your head with all the requisite visual trappings. The vocals are classic cleaner death metal growling, which became more popular in the mid to late ‘90s when a lot of death metal got a little cleaner and “more professional” sounding I suppose. But they are good vocals, and well done, they fit the music well. If you are into highly produced death metal with progressive touches and love Sci-fi like I do, then you need to check this out and remember the name Inhumanity Vortex.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/inhumanityband     IHV Vimeo     https://inhumanity.bandcamp.com      




"Kundalini Rising” Full-length Digital Album



Mæntra is an interesting band, a little out of the ordinary of what I often choose to review. This Californian band is a trio (near as I can tell) that features members of Origin, Cartilage, Terrorizer L.A. and Ghoul. The music is technical yet frenetic brutal death metal with large doses of industrial mixed in. The industrial I am talking about is think about the early releases of Pitchshifter, Godflesh and Fear Factory to illustrate the speed and pounding extremity at the heart of things here at all times. There are some not overused sequences which do not really fit either of those descriptions, such as the middle-eastern section to close the track “Vishuddha” and the like sprinkled in a couple songs. The music is quite dynamic and shape shifting at times, but as mentioned and a big part of what attracted me was the bands dedication to keeping things brutal and often crushingly heavy. I do like some industrial death metal ala the bands I mentioned above, but only when the industrial side while still prominent at times, is used in a backing role to the death metal nucleus. I like the balance and marriage Mæntra has achieved on this album. The vocals much like the music is a real myriad of screams, nasally maniacal yelling / shouting, at the forefront is charismatic dm growling that manages to create some range and convey emotion really well. Now okay, as sometimes happens with me in all honesty, a bands whole lyrical content or concept is something I can pretty much ignore entirely. That is largely the case with Mæntra as their whole concept as a band, the entire notion of this album is a kind of new age-y, Chakra inducing, anti-ego, inner piece stuff philosophical focus. As the saying goes take it or leave it I will leave it, but if they believe it and it works for them have at it. I am not sure how all of that vibe ties into the dizzy technical song construction or consistent raging brutality, but I have time for the music all day long. So I encourage you to give it a try if you even you just dabble in death metal industrial as a casual fan (like me) and I highly recommend it if you are a big fan of this sub-genre.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/maentr3   https://maentr3.bandcamp.com/releases         




“Dreaming in a Dead Language” CD & LP

(Self Released)


I cannot resist raising as much awareness as I can when it comes to awesome, independent, North Carolinian bands producing new material. I saw Mo'ynoq for the first time last year at Raleigh Deathfest, and they put on an amazing stage performance that contrasted greatly with the lineup of mostly death metal bands (as the name of the festival suggests) but also certainly complemented the general ethos of the concert. They were a breath of fresh air because I don't know about y'all, but taking in some black metal that invokes slightly colder climes during a sticky Raleigh, NC summer is just about as refreshing as it gets when water bottles cost $1.50 a piece (that shit racks up!). The main vocals in particular have that consistent howling quality to them that makes one think of the 50 mph winds that gust through the mountains of NC more often than the Piedmont. The guitars also often have a certain edge to them that's not quite ice pick, not quite serrated knife—somewhere in between that is both pleasant to listen to in moments like those at the beginning of and throughout "These Once Tranquil Grounds" as well as energizing in passages like we find in the dominant riffing and tenacious percussion of "Carve My Name." Mo'ynoq have crafted an album that rides this balance with precision and grace. You'll understand what I mean if you listen to the middle three tracks—how they lead seamlessly in and out of the central interlude, "Doomed to Endure," a piano track that is boldly emotive in such a way that stands head-and-shoulders with the character of the rest of the album. But don't just take my 303 words for it—definitely give these guys a listen if you have a taste or curiosity for quality NCBM. –Aaron

https://moynoq.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/moynoq   




"Calm Before The Storm” Cassette EP” CD

(Doomsday’s Today Records)


This is my first time ever hearing the Texas based Nilhilistic Outlaw Criminal Order, who play an experimental style of music with some industrial touches added here and there throughout the songs. This is decent band, but hard to put into any one or even two genres as the band seems draw influences from a genres and bands. The songs themselves are short in length with there being 14 songs and the run time is around 15 minutes. If you are a fan of this bands previous releases and enjoy experimental metal with touches of industrial then do yourself a favor and check out N.O.C.O. today. Send orders of physical copies of this tape to either of the following: Doomsday Today Records, Eternal Darkness Creations, c/o Keith Dempe, PO Box 268, Coraopolis, PA. 15108 and also thru Ralph's Records, c/o Doug Stapp, 3322 82nd St., Lubbock, TX. 79423 USA  - Patrick

http://www.RalphsRecordsTX.com    https://therealnoco.bandcamp.com/      




"Depredation" CD

(Self Released)


‘Depredation’ is this Wisconsin bands second full length release, which features eight tracks of brutal yet complex black metal terror. The guitar work is done with strong skill and also displays some excellent writing ability. The guitarist plays a range of fast and chaotic guitar passages even adding in some thrashy guitar elements. The guitarist does slow things to a more mid paced range in a few of the songs, and add some well played solo's that add a level of depth. The drums are performed in the same range with fast blasting drum patterns that are executed with skill and the drummers experience writing ability shows through. The vocals of Luka Đorđević are evil and grim black metal screams with some deeper death metal growls also used throughout most of the songs. If you are a fan of furious black metal with some complex guitar and drum patterns utilized within, then do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of ‘Depredation’ today. I believe a record label named Dread Records has also released this full-length on cassette format, so any tape aficionados might want to also look into that.  - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/Prezir    https://prezir.bandcamp.com/      




"Rotten Brain” Demo CDR

(Self Release)


I have been touting the quality of the French death metal scene of last couple years; and low and behold a demo by a death metal band from France shows up in my mailbox, coincidence? I do not know, but either way it was a pleasant surprise. Rotten Brain play dirty, grimy and brutal dm that has an evil, necro sort of air running across all the songs on this demo. There are some killer riffs on here, and with that gloomy atmosphere I mentioned it really adds an element of menace to these super heavy riffs. The drumming on this demo is relentless and enjoyable; Eddy Polo really punishes his kit and in turn pummels the listener into submission. The vocals are sewer growls with a real broiling, gurgling acid edge to them, these vocals are some really throwback stuff to the earlier days of death metal and I really dig the hell out of them. Yes, this entire six song demo takes me back in a good way to early days of death metal, with a mix of Swedish and American classic band influences. I am surprised my old friend Gabriel from the French tape label Nihilistic Holocaust has not tried to snap up his countrymen in Rotten Brain for some kind of release, they are right up his alley in my opinion. Anyway, if you love dark, gritty, raw and guttural death metal in the late ‘80s & early ‘90s tradition then I think you will find something to like in Rotten Brain. I know I did and I look forward to future releases.  - Dale

https://rottenbraindeathmetal.bandcamp.com/    https://www.instagram.com/rottenbraindeathmetal/      




"Solivagus” CD

(Self Release)


This is the one man band of David Baxter (ex-Plutonian Shore, ex-Skrew, ex-Škáŋ). The man’s talent shines through on this full-length of ‘progressive’ black death metal. The roots of the progressive touches are centered on things like acoustic parts, progressive rock influences, latin rhythmic incorporation and some small outside the box thinking with regards to song structuring. The black death elements are thankfully strong, pronounced and enjoyable to my ear, these metal rudiments are really more of the foundation of the music than those other things I named above. All instruments are solidly performed here, but the drumming in particular is a highlight, so I probably should not have been surprised upon further inspection to find out David played the drums in his past bands. While a lot of the rhythms and riffing is catchy, those elements are also generally kept heavy and/or essential to the song itself. Which for me, thankfully largely lacks the too sickly sweet melodic levels, seemingly just for the sake of being melodic, a pitfall a lot of melodo death bands fall into in my view. I do say largely, as there is a few times where I feel the core metal sound on here is slightly undermined, but those moments are brief and fleeting. Another highlight in addition to the drumming, for me, is his vocal performance where his echo-y, rasping growls are commanding and run up an down a register, which includes short transitory hints of clean-ish singing voice with a hint of gruff thrash style vox. Yes, the vocals really flesh things out and honestly they are probably a little under used on ‘Solivagus’ as a whole (and not at all in the title track as an example). Some of the progressive elements do not always hit the mark for me, but that said for an old goat black death purist like myself I still found a lot to like here.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/sarpahorde    https://sarpa6.bandcamp.com/          




"The Eternal Woe” Digital Download EP

(Self Release)


This is a special release for me and for the band I am certain. If you have been following my series of reviews of releases from this band, you will know these cousins originally formed a band together called Morbid Darkness that was in existence from the late ‘80s to middle ‘90s. I was a big fan of this Canadian band (and really though different from many years passing, Shadu is a tangential or in some ways not so tangential continuation of M.D.). With that in mind, for this release they have decided to revisit that original incarnation in many ways including using the old guitar tone and some stylistic elements. To say I am stoked for this release is definitely an understatement. There is even a killer Gustave Dore artwork cover, another nod to the early days. The guitar tone on here is really warm and dark sounding; it suits the material on this nearly 30 minute EP (full marks to Shadu for always listing their releases as EP’s, how many bands these days try to pass off 10-25+ minute releases as “albums” these days? Too damn many in my opinion). It is impressive to me how these guys turn out so many releases and nearly every damn song features excellent, rhythmic heavy riffs that are both imminently headbangable and memorable. As is usual with Shadu the vocals are really varied with varied charismatic sounding and very decipherable growls, gruff yells, plus a myriad of roiling vocal acidic accents always backed with quality lyrics that tell a story and infectiously imprint themselves in your memory. As gloomy sounding as this release is that classic heavy metal sound always bleeds through their blackened death metal sound. That traditional metal bleed through encompasses these old goats many metallic influences, hard earned through long years of dedication. This is reflected in some really refined guitar fills and smoking guitar solos, all craftily woven into their sinister musical tapestry. Apparently this return to their early roots with the guitar tone is planned as a one off I believe, but I enjoyed it and that old sound mixed with their matured songwriting and advanced experience is a lethal combination on ‘The Eternal Wore’. All of which makes this a high recommendation from me. I look forward to what is next from this extremely prolific band (9 releases in just over 2 years and that is not to even mention Chris Shavers two quality solo projects Transir & Edifice), so I know I likely will not have to wait long. What more can you ask for from one of your fave UG bands?  - Dale

Shadu Youtube Channel    https://shadu-nar-mattaru.bandcamp.com/      




"Doomwards And Downwards” Digital EP

(Self Release)


The Canadian two man band Shadu-Nar-Mattaru brings their shadowy and deadly sound back to the pages of CA yet again. I have to say I like the guitar sound on here, it may be my faulty memory but it feels like the guitar has a touch more bite and heft to it on this recording. I found with this twenty-five minute EP hat my head alternating often between nodding and outright headbanging and that is a damn good thing, even impressive at times considering how long (7-10 minute range) the songs are this time around. Shadu have a knack for always keeping things dark and sinister sounding, they always keep the core of their sound intact yet are often changing up their general approach sometimes release to release. You will get one release that features shorter rip ‘n tear thrashier songs, another with long doomier songs, another that goes heavy on the darkness and evil etc… It is possible to spread your wings a little musically without ever losing sight of what you set out to do with the band and keeping your roots firmly in the ground. Despite the long songs, unlike lengthy songs on a couple past releases this time they do not feel doomy. I mean that gloomy oppressive aura is there but they keep things at a middling pace with the odd brisk gallop mixed in. I want to make sure to praise succinct and classy guitar fills / solos that dot the landscape; they add a real emotional depth that puts some extra flesh on bone. The bands trademark vocal creativity and high quality is as reliable as the day is long. Those vox are a multitude of charismatic and comprehensible growling, gruff yells and other tumultuous vocal chord manipulation from both men. Lyrically this band always capably crafts and paints mental scenes that would probably make the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Frank Frazetta proud. I have reviewed a lot of releases (this is the ninth in three years I believe!) from this very musically fertile band. So, it can be a challenge to come up with new things to say, but when the band consistently delivers quality it makes that challenge a pleasure. Do yourself a favour and stop sleeping on this great dark deathrash band.  - Dale

Shadu Youtube Channel    https://shadu-nar-mattaru.bandcamp.com/      




"Ghost Parades” Digital EP

(Self Release)


The everlasting and ever flowing stream of artistic musical inspiration and consistent proliferation of releases never ceases to impress me. Shadu as many of you know is a Canadian band that consists of cousins Chris and Clayton Shaver. Their latest EP presents six tracks and over twenty-five minutes of music. Something I have pointed out in the past is the band always maintains their strong musical nucleus and rich range of old school metal influences. While still managing to skillfully augment their style slightly from release to release, sometimes it is raging speed, sometimes long doomy songs or headbanging deathrash, and other times marathon length songs that are not doomy juxtaposed the next time with short ripping tracks. An example of this is their last release “Doomwards And Downwards” had epic songs that were seven to ten minutes in length each, this time around not one song reaches the seven minute mark. The opening track ‘Wraiths Born Of A Black Expanse’ is a mid-range paced tune that has this pounding and galloping quality, coupled with melodic adventurous guitar work. It is anthem-like where you will probably find yourself unconsciously stomping your foot and nodding your head along the music. That opening song certainly gets the adrenaline flowing for me. I think it is fair to say that first song is a prelude of what is to come on the next song ‘Winds Of Decimation’ with more of an emphasis on pounding, anthem-esque feel, which features some buoyant traditional metal sounding guitar fills / solos, melodies and memorable infectious choruses. The lyrics (which are always great with Shadu) despite the more stirring airier songs are a contrast to me, as they are really dark, stark, gloomy and haunting. Which, being totally honest gives me a slightly uneven feeling when listening to that tune. Having said that I think the unevenness finds a better level in the last two tracks “Anunnaki” and “Ghost Parades of Murdered Children” (I imagine this is influenced by recent news from their province of the discovery of hundreds of native Indian bodies of children on old church/school grounds). The first of those two tracks brings a more serious and introspective mood, where as the last song, a portion of which the title of the release is lifted from, turns a darker shade of night to match step with the exceptionally chilling lyrics. This excellent song is the best on the release for me and it is dripping with emotion, a great vocal performance filled with morbid darkness and some really poignant guitar work. This is another very enjoyable EP and I continue to heartily recommend this great band to all that will listen.  - Dale

Shadu Youtube Channel    Shadu Bandcamp    Shadu Facebook    Shadu Spotify        




"The Sorrowful Frost” Full-length Digital Album

(Self Release)


Hot damn! After releasing nearly a dozen twenty five-ish minute EP’s over the first three years of their existence (2019-21), Shadu have unleashed their debut full-length album. This Canadian band tends to like to shape shift a little with their sound, while always retaining their old school foundation, which pulls inspiration from everything from speed metal to black metal, thrash metal to death metal. This time around they have a lot of shorter songs; the music is more direct and driving this time around with the usual emphasis on crushingly heavy songs that have a catchy element to them that is perfect for headbanging. Whether they play doomy on one release or a cold and evil style on the next, they always seem to manage convey a strong level of effective emotion through excellent deft guitar work and a dynamic varied vocal performance. Despite the shorter songs (most are two to four minutes) this album is still a robust length of around 45 minutes projected across 14 songs. Speaking of the guitar work some of the sequences and fills on here are fucking gorgeous, a fine example of this is a track I am listening to now entitled “Eldritch Dawn”. Back to the driving aspect of this album, it has a rapid pacing a lot of time, not blinding speed, just this steady stalking pace that is unrelenting and something I found quite compelling. Something Shadu always has is superb timeless classic extreme metal lyrics that are always delivered vocally in a severe and dark fashion. Those vocals are delivered through an array of yells, screams and charismatic growls that are always decipherable enough you can easily follow the lyrics as you listen along. Speaking of this area, check out how long the great growl at the end of “Lord Of Lies” is, I dug that. As much as those vocals are a feature they are only second to the guitar work and song construction here, both of those areas are first-rate and in my opinion help elevate Shadu apart from much of the UG metal crowd. I can recommend any and all of this bands many EPs, they are all quality releases, but in some ways they seems like they were training grounds to sharpen their skills leading up to the creation of ‘The Sorrowful Frost’ – highly recommended!  - Dale

Shadu Youtube Channel    Shadu Bandcamp    Shadu Facebook    Shadu Spotify       


P.S. - I encourage everyone to go to their youtube channel as well and check out the video the band made for the track “House Of Hell” off this album it destroys all in it’s path.




"Naught For The Fathomless Eyes” Digital EP

(Self Release)


Anyone who has been reading Canadian Assault the last few years knows this is one of my fave new (and old, more on that shortly) Canadian bands, which features cousins Clayton and Chris Shaver. I have a long history with these fellows going way back to the duos original band Morbid Darkness, who did battle in the UG scene from the end of the 1980s until the mid 1990s. As I often comment on, this band has been extremely prolific during their three years releasing no less than 14 EPs (!!!), most of those EPs clocking in at 25 minutes or more. Oh, and they also released a full-length album as well, see what I mean that is a lot music in a short period of time. It is also a lot of great music in that compact timeframe. Thus, it is with some disappointment I sit down to review this EP, as Clayton tells me the working relationship has once again gone sour and this may well be the bands final recording. This release follows along on their patented great old school deathrash fashion with some classic heavy metal influences creeping in now and again. Clayton told me they went for a production similar to Darkthrone albums like 'Dark Thrones And Black Flags', 'Hate Them’, 'The Cult Is Alive', it is an interesting choice and gives their style a different nuance. Their music always pounds relentlessly with endless cool riffs, stalking paced drums and the odd cool fill and guitar solo. Their music is also always heavy, catchy and dark with ‘Naught…’ strongly continuing that tradition with five new tracks of quality music. The vocals are always fantastic and feature charismatic deep yells, shouts and growling with some of the most memorable and interesting lyrics around that you can clearly follow along with. They branch off a bit and try a couple new things on this release, but it decidedly is still classic Shadu and that is a good thing. It is sad if this is the bands final release, but hot damn man this band burned bright the last few years, taking up the ancient metal flame and leaving behind a lot of music that will live on for many years and keep wrecking ears throughout the UG scene!  - Dale

Shadu Youtube Channel    Shadu Bandcamp    Shadu Facebook    Shadu Spotify      




"Endless Spiritual Embodiment” CD

(Bloody Mountain Records / Self-Released)


Sxuperion is a one man band (who is also a member of Valdur, Weverin & Garden Of Hesperides) that plays a form of heavy, crushing death metal with some lethal black metal influences thrown into the deadly mix. The guitars are played with a nice blend of fast, chaotic guitar patterns, but things do slow down to a more controlled mid paced tempo at times. The vocals are low, deep death metal growls along with some gruff growling mixed into a few of the tracks. The drums follow along in the same vein with a fast blasting arrangements blended in with some slower, more controlled drums. This was my first time hearing Sxuperion, but if you are looking for a band that plays some destructive old school death metal similar to old Incantation then “Endless Spiritual Embodiment” is right in your wheel house.  - Patrick

https://bloodymountainrecords.bandcamp.com/    http://www.bloodymountainrecords.com/         




"Flight Among The Tombs” CD EP



This is my first encounter with this Detroit band. They have been around for over a decade, though looking at their discography it is a little sparse with a CD single, two EPs and one full-length prior to this new Twenty-six minute Extended Play disc. The high level of musicianship and skillful nuances of the impressive song construction became apparent very quickly upon pressing play. Theandric combine influences (ala Maiden, Candlemass, Solitude Aeturnus, Queensryche, Fates Warning) of heavy metal, progressive hard rock/metal and classic doom metal. The songwriting on here shows a real flair and feel for writing emotional yet heavy memorable metal music that builds and crescendos by manipulating the listener’s emotions with the aplomb of accomplished puppet master. I am not generally that into bands lyrical content in many cases. The lyrics on this release have a very theatrical dramatic feel, sometimes they really hit with some poignant clever lines and other times border slightly on being a bit too melodramatic to minor cringe levels in my opinion. When it works though it is great, a sequence that comes to mind is from the track ‘The Battle Of Sherramuir’ and goes along like this “The King will separate the goats from the sheep, Soaked in lukewarm apathy, Cloaked in black hypocrisy…” That is damn good stuff especially when you hear it come from the soaring pipes of vocalist Paolo Tiseo, who silkily delvers the lyrics, he is a real talent combining influences and tendencies of legendary singers such as Geoff Tate, Bruce Dickinson and Messiah Marcolin to superb effect. Theandric wear their influences blatantly on their sleeves and that might concern some, but not me. When it is pulled off with this level of proficiency in all areas of the music’s composition and execution then I am all in on this impressive release.  - Dale

https://theandric.bandcamp.com/    www.facebook.com/Theandric   https://www.theandric.com/      




"Life Is Bad" CD

(Self Release)


Torrefy hail from Victoria, B.C. Canada and explode out of my speakers with some high energy yet dark sounding speed thrash metal madness. This is the bands third full-length release. Torrefy do change up the speed dynamic from time to time, but generally not for long as it is certainly not an understatement above, these fuckers fucking fly at supersonic speeds at nearly all times with everything just dripping in adrenaline. The drums are lightning quick and powerful, the guitars are a blur with some really swift and enjoyable guitar fills and solos. The vocalist John Ferguson’s has some cool wall to wall, acidic and searing maniacal screams, which are punctuated with some classic gruff touches and whispers of a death metal growl now and again. The range of the vocals is pretty impressive, as is the verbal acrobatics Ferguson is forced into to keep up with the velocity of the ever changing and morphing song structures. The band list themselves as “Black Speed Death Thrash”, outside of slight elements of black and death in the vocals, I just did not hear it. As stated above I see them more as a pure mixing of speed metal and thrash. However, the more I listen to this, the more I am feeling this influence with regards to the elements in the song construction just not in overall tone and style. I could see it if you are a die hard black death metal fan, but do not care for thrash (what is wrong with you?! I know you are out there though haha) this may not be your cup of tea. Whatever you want to call it is fine, I just call it a good extreme metal record by a talented band that deserves your attention.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/Torrefy/    https://torrefy.bandcamp.com/       




"From Beyond The Grave” CD

(Skull Crusher Music / Self Release)

LEATHER 'N CHAINS 'Zine Issue #1


Unburied is an old goat, gray beard entity (much like me) in this UG metal scene. The band having formed in 1994 and releasing their first demo in 1996, then carried on to release another demo, three split EPs and two full-length albums through 2012. At this point I think main man (now the only man as Unburied is a one man band nowadays) Matt Pike was burnt out and fed up with all the line up hassles and the like. So the band appears to have went on ice, but Mr. Pike decided to wake the slumbering beast, whilst taking all control over his bands music, recording, mixing, production and even cd pressing / distribution of his releases. This move resulted in a return with Unburied’s first album in seven years entitled “Primitive, Raw, Underground” in 2019. This brings us to this release, Matt’s second full-length since the revive – let’s dig into it. I liked the short River’s Edge movie clip he used at the start of the second track “From Beyond The Grave”. Actually, much like those early death metal demos in this genre there are a lot of movie clips mixed in from movies like Fight Club, Drive, Dark Side etc… I am here all day for those as these clips are nicely timed and mixed into the songs here. This release in some ways feels to me like a really killer death metal riff tape, to base future songs around. I don’t mean for that to sound harsh in any way. But whether it is the lack of a consistent bass guitar rumbling foundation, or the song construction, or the overall mixing of the individual recording elements (and no not because it is raw – I love a raw and gritty sound), perhaps even due to a combination of all of those factors. It just feels to me like there are small gaps in the song flow that need minor cohesive strands of sinew and connective tissue to bridge those little gaps. I understand and respect why Matt is going it alone now, but maybe the music would benefit from more members? A good one man bands makes you forget it is a one man band. Having said all of that, I feel like things come together best on a track entitled “Criminal Underground” towards the end of the album, which is the best tune on the release for me, more of this please. The vocals are gruff shouted growls and the band could use a bit of upgrade in this department, but Mike does his best and the raw violent and biting emotion really convey his this man’s dedication and commitment for what he is doing. He does bring some doomy elements, now and again, into his songwriting that I appreciate. I would say if you like raw, primordial and stripped down mean death metal demo tapes like those from the early ‘90s you will appreciate this and it will bring back some of that old great feeling. The passion Matt has for death metal and UG scene bleed through every second of this album in the music and lyrics. That is a good thing and my hat is off to him for soldiering on throughout these long years!

<Bonus Review> LEATHER & CHAINS ‘Zine Issue #1 *28 Side Stapled Pages* I have to give Matt Pike props, he was disappointed in the UG metal ‘zine situation in the US, so instead of just bitching he did something about it. He made this whole fanzine in one month and it is better than a lot of first issues of print ‘zines that I have seen in my long experience in this scene. I like how he made sure to fill up his pages, not use huge kindergarten font in order to make sure there is lots of content. There are four pages of proper length well done reviews of albums, demos and fanzines. Then you have interviews with Deceased, Flesh Crawl, Nunslaughter, Bad Luck 13 Riot Extravaganza, Immolation, Gravesite Productions and lastly, probably least with me (Canadian Assault – thank you my metal brother!). The interviews are great, just like I like them long and in-depth! There are flyers re-printed, it is just pure UG support and devotion. There is nothing at all I can say bad or critical about this whatsoever. I just hope there are more issues in the future.  - Dale

https://unburied.bandcamp.com/    https://unburiedbandmerch.wixsite.com/website       




"Demo 2019” Cassette

(Caligari Records)


This is the debut release from this Rochester, NY band presenting five tracks totaling just under 20 minutes of music. This young band plays raw sounding stripped down yet not stripped down, brutal old school metal of death. What do I mean by that? Well, it is stripped down death metal, but the simplistic main body is supported with some well crafted song structuring and subtle yet skillful guitar playing and drum work, which brings that straightforward foundation of their songs to a higher level. Ultimately Undeath it seems are more focused on making memorable, headbang inducing songs than trying to fit a million elements into a song or just playing as fast you can just for the sake of it. I really enjoyed some of the great energetic guitar fills that propel the music forward amongst the mainstay slower mid paced moody death doom style elements. Some influences I hear bleeding through this killer demo are stuff like Disembowelment, Demilich “Nespithe”, early Immolation, early Gorguts, Morbid Angel (2nd & 3rd album period) etc... I might even say some of the more finesse guitar work reminds me a little bit of early to mid period Death. I also really dig the dark, obscured sounding growls with rolling whisper undertone to them, definitely a highlight for me. Honestly, recording is only slightly raw, slightly muddy sounding. I think it suits and accentuates their music well, if I was in this band I would seriously consider recording their next release the exact same way. That thick, heavy and deep guitar sound is really pleasing to mine ears. I already can not wait for this new bands next release!  - Dale

https://undeath.bandcamp.com/releases    https://www.facebook.com/CaligariRecords  




"Cad Chuing Nach Faigheann Sibh Bas?” Demo CDR EP

(Self Release)


David Vora through his one man band VDC has hung in the underground scene creating music for 25+ years! I admire him for that and for everything he lacks in musical ability and songwriting prowess, and he does, he makes up for in dedication and perseverance. I do not speak Gaelic, but I believe the title track translates “Why Don’t You Die?” David usually does mostly originals with one or two covers, but this time around it is mainly covers as you can see above in the track list. The musical performance on here as sub par as it is, still as all of his releases in my opinion,  has a charm to it and I always dug this cool Irishman’s gruffly sung voice. Something else I appreciate about his releases is he puts it all out there and is not afraid to explore in poignant detail his mental health struggles and give the listeners a small window into what it is like to try and deal with all of that. It is inspiring for me. What I have to say to wrap things up is keep doing what you have being doing David, never give up no matter what anyone says, stay UG and stay extreme brother.  - Dale

https://youtu.be/u4_1kJDSY6k    davidvora10@hotmail.com       




"Tempest Of Reckoning” Cassette EP

(Self Released)


I was surprised and extremely pleased to receive this tape in my mailbox. This is one of the many one man bands (Edifice, Transir, Worms Of The Birth, Eat Your Maker plus more) from Chris Shaver, who is one half of one of my fave Canadian bands in the scene UG scene today, which is Shadu-Nar-Mattaru (the band he does with his cousin Clayton who created music together from the end of the ‘80s thru middle ‘90s under the name Morbid Darkness). I should write in here that the recent whispers of Shadu’s demise were premature and that mighty band is taking a short breather, then they will be back!! Just the band Shadu alone is exceptionally prolific, so I have no idea whatsoever how Chris can create so much varied music, so fast and it is all good, just mad respect from me for this talented man. VHOD produces some excellent dark death metal with heavy doom influences, which in combination creates a enticing dank and heavy atmosphere that I found myself submitting to again and again, as I hit the play button repeatedly. There is some killer guitar work on here, keeping things fresh and it showcases Chris’ memorable, interesting songwriting. The growling vocals on here are well done, the inflections on the voice and his timing really convey the emotion needed and if you listen closely you will discover some cleverly crafted lyrics. Death doom fans should take note here. Chris has some superb, tempting deals on his bandcamp site for large swaths of his projects combined catalogs, so go load the fuck up his releases! You will not be sorry you did.  - Dale

https://www.instagram.com/VHODofficial/   https://vhod.bandcamp.com/music