ECCLESIA

“Ecclesia Militans” CD & LP

(Aural Music)

 

Ecclesia is a French band who have been around releasing music for the last eight years, and this is their second album, both on this same label. I did not know a lot about Aural Music, or at least I never looked into them before. This Italian label is quite a large operation, besides the main label they have like at least a half dozen sub-labels (ala Code666, Goregorecords, Eibon, Dreamcell11, Wormholedeath)! The bio for this band was kinda short and lacking on detail. But I was able to dig up that vocalist Arnhwald Rattenfänger, and drummer Grégoire Galichet have quite a musical relationship together. As in addition to this band, these two men are also in the bands Deathcode Society and Glaciation together, both of those black metal bands have albums out on Osmose Productions. The music of Ecclesia could not be more different than those two bands, no black metal to be found, whatsoever. No, this band plays a pretty equal mixture of classic heavy metal and traditional doom metal. Which immediately conjures up influences in my mind of bands like Solitude Aeturnus, Witchfinder General, Manilla Road, Candlemass, UK’s Solstice, Cirith Ungol, Pagan Altar and the like. There is some excellent energy to their music, some emotive and affecting aspects to the skillfully crafted songwriting work on here. Some of the refined guitar work and accompanying synth work really go a long way to achieving that poignant yet epic quality to Ecclesia’s music. Another large component of this is Arnhwald’s smooth, soaring vocals. They are just dripping with those above mentioned qualities. He is able to really slide up and down the range scale with seeming ease and eloquence. I think general fans, and especially diehards of old school heavy metal and classic doom will really enjoy this quality album.   - Dale

https://ecclesia-official.bandcamp.com/   https://www.auralwebstore.com/   

 

 

ECOCIDE

“Metamorphosis” CD

(Memento Mori Records)

 

It has been a bit of a stop ‘n start, bumpy road for The Netherlands Ecocide. After having formed in 2012 they have stalled and re-started the band twice, while releasing a demo, an EP, their debut album and two single songs along the way. That brings us to now, when they have revived the band once again, and seemingly in a relatively short time have written and recorded their second album “Metamorphosis”. Their sound is decidedly rooted in the embryonic traditions extreme metal. Their song writing screams early American death metal, though not the barbaric, blast beating, grinding style. No, we are talking the late ‘80s, and very early ‘90s with a focus on the early days of the Floridian scene. You can hear it bleeding out of their skillful song construction, especially with regards to the clear and concise classic riffing and drum work. You will also notice these musicians have a foundation and love for thrash metal, as well in the song crafting, timing and execution. These guys know what they are doing, they know how to write a good, memorable song and have a strong feel for flow that is neither in a hurry, nor stays too long at the party. Some bands copy to the point of nearly blushing, but Ecocide do it with enough care mixed with ability, spirit and dedication that I was absolutely absorbed and obsessed with it. It is that well done in my view. I can not wrap this up without mentioning Sten Govers, his vocals fit the music like a proverbial glove and his magnetic and distinctive voice is a wonderful mix of Chuck Schuldiner with a nice dose of John Tardy. I could listen to this man vocalist all day long Haha! If you love later eighties and early nineties Florida death metal with that classic sound, and can not get enough then you need to get this one.   - Dale

https://ecocide-osdm.bandcamp.com/   http://www.memento-mori.es/   

 

 

EKROM

“Uten Nådigst Formildelse” CD, LP & Cassette

(Edged Circle Records)

 

Coming on the heels of Ekrom’s first release (a three song EP that is included on here with five new hymns), is this Norwegian bands debut album. I must admit it did not take me very long upon my first of many listens, to quickly become intoxicated with their brand of sinister, free flowing black metal. The music bitter and freezing, but always accompanied with this evil aura throughout this sweeping epic darkness, in the rhythmic guitars with crescendo-like sparse drum strikes. The attention to creating a permeating ambiance within their songwriting is strong; it is far from mindless, and executes this goal with a commanding sense of purpose. That balance between harsh, haunting evil and creeping atmosphere is very enjoyable for me. The vocals from Kharon complement that style of music well, with his ruthless and spirited yet vexed rasping, which is often punctuated with tortured, even maniacal sounding brief yells and effective shrieking outbursts. If you, like me, worship classic second wave black metal, but in this case with some majestic haunting touches, then you will enjoy this impressive debut record.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/ekromofficial   https://edgedcircleproductions.bandcamp.com/   

 

 

ETERNAL ROT

"Moribound” CD, LP & Cassette

(Memento Mori Records / Godz Ov War Records)

 

I have heard the name Eternal Rot kicking around for some years, and I always meant to investigate them, but somehow never managed to until now. I mean this Polish band had that classic old style band name, logo, and the Mark Riddick (art god!!) artwork, so I really do have no excuse for waiting this long. The band has long been on their home country label Godz Ov War for most of their whole existence, but now they team up with Momento Mori for a split release and promotion. I like it. In a lot of ways Eternal Rot is exactly what I was expecting, and that is a good thing, there was certainly no disappointment here from me. E.T. produces absolutely vile, boiling, sewer death metal done in the old ways of the early to middle nineties style and it crushes. The riffs are doomy rumbling and monstrous, the brooding aura they create is fantastic. It also has some great rhythmic sensibilities to it, amongst the grind you dust brutality, which hooked me and had me slow motion headbanging right along. The vocals on here are a massive and essential component to their sound, as they are constantly growling / gurgling with an evil and disgusting blood roiling audio quality that coats everything else with a fantastic splatter. When I say constantly, I mean constantly. There is hardly any sections or instances across this whole album courtesy of both Mayer and Grindak where if they are not growling out actual lyrics, it is often gushing torrents of voices murmuring, sloshing and bubbling their way sadistically along. The vocals are a tour-de-force on this recording, I love them so much!! There is so many vocal influences from the early days of death metal mixed in there, but think of a melting pot of the early vocal performances on the first releases of Carcass, Mortician, Impaled Nazerene (Goat Perversion 7” & 1st album), Demilich, Autopsy, Disembowelment, Cianide, Goatlord and who knows who the fuck else mixed together! The music is great on here, but I could just listen to the vocals alone with no music, they are that amazing. Check it out if old sewer death metal blended with ancient sepulchral style death metal and doom floats your boat, I know it floats mine.   - Dale

www.facebook.com/EternalRot    https://www.godzovwar.com/    http://www.memento-mori.es/       

 

 

EXCARNATED ENTITY

“Mass Grave” CD, LP & Cassette

(Horizon Nuclear Winter Records)

 

Excarnated Entity is a relatively new band (previously only releasing a demo a few years back), they started out in Seattle before two of the original members relocated to Portland, Oregon, where they replaced the two members left behind with a duo of fresh local recruits. The band may be pretty fresh to the UG scene, but their members certainly are not as they feature the entire two man band of the well respected Triumvir Foul in this band, as well as a collective they have done time in Utzalu, Dagger Lust, Ash Borer, Uškumgallu, ex-Mortiferum. This band has been working on this debut album ever since their resettlement and line up reorganization, the result is a hefty slab of music clocking in at nearly forty-five minutes. The sounds on here absolutely ooze a suffocating, all-encompassing atmosphere that blankets everything, creating a pretty deliciously depressive and claustrophobic air to revel within. Their brand of dark doom death metal invokes in me a strong and poignant emotional feel, with a slow burn foreboding. That is not to ignore the crushing nature of their death metal side, it may just be a slow motion pummel, but the steam roll battering commands your attention and overtakes you. The vocals are great, nothing super special on their own, though they are still good at a stand alone level, but the impact of those whispered, evil, echoing growl vocals are maximized when mixed with the monolithic music as the backdrop. I think to a more experienced ear, you will pick up on influences of everything from Cenotaph, Asphyx and early Grave to a strong feeling of the early works of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride. Imagine if you will those two Peaceville bands if they had not strayed from the path of their early releases, which I think many doom diehards wish had been the case. Hell, now that I think about it you could probably throw in small dashes of Autopsy, Disembowelment and Ceremonium into that bubbling cauldron of influential potions. If you are similar to me, where you can not get enough of this great old style of traditional death doom that is both gloomy and destructive, then might I suggest you give this album a try.  - Dale

https://excarnatedentity.bandcamp.com/   https://www.nuclearwinterrecords.com     

 

 

 

FAITHXTRACTOR

“Contempt for A Failed Dimension” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

Faithxtractor is a veteran band in the underground scene, having announced their existence in 2006 with a two song demo. Since then they have released another demo, an EP and a split EP with Crucified Mortals, along with three previous full-length albums. This Ohio band is a duo made up of Zdenka Prado (Estuary & Surgikill) on bass guitar and main man in Faithxtractor from the beginning Ash Thomas (Shed The Skin, Surgikill, Estuary, Crucified Mortals, ex-Thorns Of Carrion) on vocals, guitars and drums. The introduction to their bio starts off kind of scolding reviewers, like don’t be a sheep and label the band as old school death metal. What I do not get is, is that supposed to be a bad thing?! Because this is old school death metal as fuck, and in my book that is a good thing, and when done this well it is damn good thing! So, bahhhh bahhhh I guess haha. I have been listening to death metal pretty much since it’s inception, yeah I’m old, so I feel like I know a traditional death metal band when I hear one. Speaking of which, the music on here is some tasty brutal death metal with sometimes quite memorable rhythms, and interesting songwriting that really got my head banging pretty hard at times. The production on here is perfect; it is crushingly heavy and in your face. Yet, it still manages to let the highly enjoyable and at times, quite nuanced guitar work, room to breathe. Another facet of their sound I enjoy is everything is blanketed in with a dark rotting aura, which gives an extra sinister dimension to their sound. The growling vocals from Thomas are massive, malevolent and commanding, as they nicely mimic the gloomy emotion and aggression of the music. If you worship, as I do, old school death metal (*ducks for cover* from the mostly empty whiskey bottle the band will throw my way ;)) in the vein of early British, Swedish and American style bands. Then you really need to give this band and this album a chance, it is worth it.  - Dale

https://faithxtractor.bandcamp.com/   https://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/   

 

 

FATHOMLESS RITUAL

“Hymns For The Lesser Gods” Digipak CD

(Transcending Obscurity Records)

 

This is yet another new solo band from the prolific, and busy Canadian metal maniac Brendan Dean. I have in recent times, reviewed albums from his other bands Gutvoid and Pukewraith. Brendan is a member in bands (some international line-ups) like Soul Devourment, Alucard, and Fumes. Some bands like this one, and Pukewraith are one man bands while the rest are fuller bands haha. So far, having only heard Gutvoid, Fumes, and Pukewraith, I have to say I am a definite fan of Brendan’s work. So, does this streak of success continue with his newest creation on the album “Hymns For The Lesser Gods”? The answer is most surely in the affirmative. He takes elements from classic death metal bands over the years, yes it is a bit derivative at times, but what this man does with those elements when he applies his considerable skill and songwriting talent to them, results in some very good outcomes. This album is no exception to that trend, as it teems with an unrelentingly dirty and grimy brutal death metal churn. The riffing sounds so massive, it continually chugs along, not at breakneck pace, but a hurried pace nonetheless that stalks forward with an unrelenting stride. It is amazing to me how many crazy yet tasty little small cracks that he manages to fill with an audio compound, which he spackles precisely with those brief fills and abbreviated manic guitar soloing. If you love, as I do, those wonderfully sick styled growling vocals that incorporate rolling, gurgling toad-y croaks at the end of each elongated growl then you will dig this. Because this dude does those vocals perfectly, they are splattered wall to wall on this album, and I personally can not get enough of them. There is a myriad of influences I could throw out, but if you can not get enough of this style and love the band Demilich, both musically and vocally, then you need to get a copy of this dark sewered and begrimed death metal album posthaste.   - Dale

https://fathomlessritual.bandcamp.com/   https://tometal.com/       

 

 

FULANNO

“Ruido Infernal” CD, LP & Cassette

(Helter Skelter Productions & Regain Records)

 

Fulanno comes to us out of Argentina, and the positively electric South American UG scene that has been absolutely on fire and prolific in recent times. I have mentioned in the past, but I think it bears repeating. That Helter Skelter, though they may not have created it, they have seemingly cornered the market on the satanic / occult stoner doom metal UG scene. They have many bands on their roster that fit into this style such as Black Spell, Demonio, En La Niebla, Sahara, Ibliss, Mephistofeles, Old Ghoul, Witchsnake plus more. One thing when I say that, a lot of these bands their foundation and studs are heavy metal doom, and their insulation and wiring have that doomy stoner sound as an undercurrent to it all. This subgenre tends not bring the oppressive slow motion crush, nor do they absolutely rip into rocking or fast sections, like pretty much ever. They sit in that middle realm, bringing an introspective, trippy atmosphere, sort of like sitting with the devil passing a bong of good weed back and forth, as you listen to the hypnotic rhythm of the screams and moans of his captured souls. The vocals are sung in the bands native language, which adds some extra flavour for me in this instance. Those vox are chill and melt in and out of the music like a light in a thick nighttime fog, dispersing in a wide pattern yet guiding along through the gloom like a reassuring companion. To be honest, Fulanno may not be an extraordinary band, and they can be a bit of a one trick pony, but they are damned good at that trick. Which is deep thought, mind wandering journey of a listen. If you are in that head space these guys will deliver what you need. It did for me, hopefully it will do the same for you. Check it out.  - Dale

fulanno.bandcamp.com   regainrecords.bandcamp.com   www.helterskelterproductions.se    

 

 

FUNERAL WINDS

“Stigmata Mali” CD, LP & Cassette

(Osmose Productions)

 

Funeral Winds from the Netherlands, has a long and storied history, in the UG scene. Having formed back in 1991(!!), unlike many other ancient bands Funeral Winds never stopped, and have been going strong for over 30 years! I have a lot of respect for this fact. Though F.W. started out as a full band, for the better part of a decade now ,it has been essentially a solo band. Founding member Hellchrist Xul writes all the music, as well as handling all instruments. ‘Stigmata Mali’ marks the bands 7th album, the first for Osmose Productions, after putting out a couple prior records with Avantgarde Records. This album count of course does not include the scores of demos, EPs, splits and compilation releases through their many years. Onward to the music, the title track is a really great song, despite having such a cold and sinister atmosphere, you can still headbang to that killer main riff. There is also some interesting tempo changes, from the ritualistic and hypnotic to hateful aggression, which makes for a memorable song. In fact, having mentioned the template for that song, it kind of describes Funeral Winds overall style too, it is that mid tempo, baleful rhythmic pulsing chainsaw gutfuck riffing that is often between a second wave freezing black metal violent rapid assaulting attack. Think of a menacing and evil musical ceremony melting pot of bands like Mayhem, Bestial Summoning, Blood Storm, Burzum, Gorgoroth, Katharsis mixing with early Immortal, older Darkthrone, Horna, Marduk. It takes all those bands and the like, marrying the two general styles in a diabolical audio union. Now, when I mention some of those bands, do keep in mind that Funeral Winds has been around much longer than some of them, and just as long as most on that list. I would probably be remiss to not mention the great vocals of Xul, which include a number of facets rolled into one presentation of a classic acid bm rasp, underpinned with an obscured echo filled whispery tone, and a boiling, rolling elongated cold gurgle that connects each word or line of lyric. Funeral Winds in the past had some lengthy spells of time between albums, but the last five years, there has been released no less than four full-lengths, and if you are judging by this album, the quality remains high.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/FuneralWindsBM   https://osmoseproductions.bandcamp.com/    

 

 

GATEKEEPER

"From Western Shores” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

It is interesting to find out, after deciding to review this album and giving it a spin, that not only is this band Canadian, but they originally came out of the area I grew up in in Canada. That is probably only interesting to me haha. Gatekeeper plays traditional heavy metal of the very melodic variety with an emphasis on catchy, memorable song structuring and lyrics. Despite the fact that they like to keep things fairly straight forward, there is still some guitar work going on with some quality fills, and the odd appetizing solo. The vocals of Tyler Anderson (Odinfist, Terrorflesh) take flight and soar into the stratosphere, punctuated with the odd siren crescendo, well within lockstep with the epic vibe of the music. I also love that little high yell that drops in on the opening track “”From Western Shores”, it reminds me to ‘80s era Jon Oliva Savatage, good stuff. Though less obvious, I think you could probably throw classic Savatage into the musical influence mix as well. Some of the other bands that come to mind when listening to this record are Manilla Road, Omen, Manowar, Liege Lord, Helstar, Sanctuary, Eternal Champion and the like. This release is the bands second full-length record; it looks like I need to need to go back and get their debut record now, to add to their previous EP and this excellent sophomore album to complete my Gatekeeper discography. Give it a try, if classic melodic heavy metal with modern touches floats your boat.  - Dale

https://gatekeeper.bandcamp.com/   https://www.cruzdelsurmusic.com/          

 

 

THE GLORIOUS DEAD

“Cemetery Paths” CD & LP

(Bindrune Recordings)

 

This is the band of longtime underground metal veteran Marty Rytkonen, who I traded copies of Canadian Assault print issues of his Worm Gear ‘zine way back in the late ‘90s. This is not my first encounter with The Glorious Dead, as I reviewed their debut album elsewhere on this site a few years back. The band returns with their sophomore full-length and I was excited to check it out. Now, I sometimes see comparisons of this band with black metal bands, I must admit I do not get it, I do not hear black metal influence pretty much at all, it is death metal through and through. This release is a massive, heavy slab of death metal with crushing riffs, hammer pounding brutality and song construction that I found memorable as it burned into my brain and kept things ever interesting. I like their mix of barbarity, speed, nuanced rapid guitar work and an overall sound that has a great dark aura permeating throughout it’s gore soaked lyrical mental landscapes. The vocals while almost entirely decipherable are still a menacing, acid boiling guttural eruption that keeps the extremity intact, while letting a little bit of accessibility creep in to make the songs, again memorable. I mentioned last time around that I felt their main influences derived from the early to middle ‘90s death metal scenes from England (Benediction, Bolt Thrower plus a touch of Napalm Death) and Sweden (Dismember, Grave, Unleashed) and all of that is still true by my ear. I could see an argument that a little bit of early Morbid Angel or Death could be detected, but only in small trace amounts. If you love old school death done at it’s top levels then I think you really should give this record a go.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/thegloriousdeadtc/    https://shop.bindrunerecordings.com/   

 

 

GOATKRIEG

"Satan's Legion Marches" CD

(Masters Of Kaos Productions)

 

GoatKrieg is a two man band with members in Germany and Hungary. Moloch handles all the intruments and writes all the music for GoatKrieg. The other half of the duo on vocals is Bálint, who you might also know from the bands Bál, Vargrike and Hollow. 'Satan's Legion Marches' is the debut full length featuring eight tracks of bestial and relentless black death metal. Both the guitars and drums are a barrage of fast and chaotic guitar patterns on this recording. The drumming features fast blasting drums that bulldoze through each song with intensity and total barbarity. The vocals emanating from Bal and are a mix of demonic and brutal growls that are delievered with dominating power. There is also some insanely blackend shrieks and screams that this demonn spits out, giving each song a nice mix. This release is a must have for all those who love bestial and brutal blackend death metal, you will not be disapointed. I believe the cassette version is a seprate release on Bal's label and both are limited editons so do not waste time in getting a copy.   - Patrick

https://goatkrieg.bandcamp.com/   https://theblackwitch056.wixsite.com/mastersofkaos/shop   

 

 

GUERRA TOTAL

“Himnos Rituales De Guerra Y Total Devastación” Digipak CD

(Iron Blood And Death Corporation)

 

The long running black death thrash metal band from Colombia Guerra Total is still going strong! This is no less than their 10th album. I mean I reviewed one of their albums over a decade ago. These old metal goats hold their horns up high while producing massive walls of blackened death thrash metal at the speed of a bullet train. Their music is an adrenaline ride of blitzkrieg metal that thrashes it up with the best of them, in the old traditions, it will force you to headbang and break shit while you listen! These guys are not just all bullet belts and speed, they also produce some catchy riffs and know how to write memorable songs. There is some sweet guitar solos and fills that round things out. The drummer Naberius is a real maniac on the drum kit, he rapid fire’s everything in his path with precision, and a high order of magnitude. I loved his drum performance in “City Of The Living Dead” (great movie!) where the man puts on a whirlwind performance and his rolling piston pounding drum runs towards the end of that song rule. The vocalist Jordicaz has those early to mid ‘80s screaming thrash yelled voice down pat, and he really adds some punch and even more electricity to their already powerful sound. Fanatics of old bands like the earlier works of Slayer, Exodus, Kreator, Bathory, Venom, Sodom, Bulldozer, alongside newer bands like Nieflheim, Toxic Holocaust, Aura Noir and Abigail will like will love this horror movie and whiskey soaked album.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/GuerraTotalBand   https://ironbloodanddeath.bandcamp.com/   

 

 

GUTVOID

“Durance Of Lightless Horizons” CD, LP & Tape

(Blood Harvest Records)

 

This is my very first foray into the world of the Canadian band known as Gutvoid. The band formed in 2019 and thus far has released an EP, a digital single, and another single song on a 4 way split. This young band features members of Fumes, Grotesque Mass, Intestinal Hex, Wexler’s Prime and Exsanguinate. The band plays a brutal yet quite meandering style (I mean that in a positive way), that is quite emotive and at times kind of introspective. They also create an atmosphere that is dark and suffocating yet despite drawn out nature of a lot of their material is, to me it never gets boring. It is not driving or direct music in an aggressive way yet I still feel a simmering barbarity emanating from it nonetheless. Despite how slow a lot of it is, despite how long the songs are (ranging from 7 to 15 minutes!), I don’t know that I would call their style doom death, but it would not be right off the scent to do so either. I like the growling vocals on here, they mimic the music wonderfully, drawing out the vocalist’s growls and at the same time injecting an inflection to his voice that draws out and reflects the reflective, poignant aspects of the slow moving gloomy aura that makes their style so imminently enticing and an absorbing listen for me. When I listen, despite Gutvoid taking their own spin on them, I hear a lot of influence from bands like Bolt Thrower, early Incantation, Demilich, Timeghoul, Gorguts, Blood Incantation, Tomb Mold and bands in that vein. This album is an impressive debut and has me interested, even eager, to see what comes next for them.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/gutvoidofficial   https://bloodharvestrecords.bandcamp.com/   

 

 

HEIMLAND

“Forfedrenes Taarer” 12” LP & Cassette

(Edged Circle Productions)

 

You know I was quite into some of the bands in the style known as pagan black metal, during the middle to late ‘90s. Which, at it’s base back then was the relatively recent, and burgeoning second wave of black metal, but it often incorporated more of an inspiration of flowing, sweeping organic approach folded into the previous cold hatred musically. This new element was a organic musical representation of the pagan worship, of the old ways, of the earth and it’s natural forces and dark inspirations. I was quite into this for a while, while I still am, but not as nearly as actively as I once was. As, somewhere around the early 00’s it seemed like a lot of those bands, and that style, seemed to fade and/or morph into incorporating a lot of things like flutes, timpani, clean vocals and just outright heavy melding of folk music. I think it is these aforementioned elements that kind of strangled, or at least muted my feelings for that pagan bm musical movement, and except for a couple exceptions, I moved on. This brings me to Heimland, who I feel in many ways pick up that mantle, from the middle to later ‘90s pagan metal style and tradition on “Forfedrenes Taarer”. You have that fluid, streaming guitar, and song construction I mentioned earlier, mixed with a nice dose of the second wave bm freezing hatred to create a dynamic yet still somewhat uncompromising mixture. Basically they revive that cool style that endeared me to this style all those moons ago. This even extends to the vocals somewhat in this style, they feature as their foundation the evil, grating classic black metal rasp, but they also like the music, extends slightly to add some elongated, flowing yet again uncompromising accents that conjure up those epic, sinister nature induced emotions. It is kind of hard for me to describe right now, Haha. As I listen to Heimland I can not help but think back to the early releases of Enslaved, Kampfar, Månegarm, Taake, Helheim and the like are swimming through my head while I listen to this band. Heimland is for me, in that old musical sweet spot of caustic frozen, simmering hatred, and the epic all-encompassing musical mists sinuously creeping through the dark forests.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/heimlandofficial   https://edgedcircleproductions.bandcamp.com       

 

 

HELLRIPPER

“Warlocks Grim & Withered Hags” CD, LP & Cassette

(Peaceville Records)

 

There is a lot of good one man bands nowadays, but there is a rare few that operate at an elite level. This is my first run-in with Scottish phenom known as James McBain and his solo band. But, the whirlwind that quickly faced me here, even upon the first listen, said to me Hellripper belong to that elite group. I mean James plays everything on here at a high level, from the performances on each individual instrument, to the songwriting, and it is damned impressive! The music on here is a touch hard to pin down, even though it is consistent in form and consistently extreme, fast and detailed. But if you pinned me down, I guess I would call it black metal influenced speed metal, with a healthy helping of thrash on the side. The music on here is so classic sounding it hurts, it has that splendid old school feel, with killer riffs, and smooth song composition that that transitions beautifully from vigorous tempo changes, to emotive melodic passages, and rip ‘n tear metallic shred, all with silky flow. Hell, even James’ vocals are superb, featuring a mixing of heavy metal vocals, speed and thrash metal screams topped with gruff shouts, even some clearly sung yet acidic poison black metal rasp and more. Just his vocal performance on this record is a diverse tour de force; he puts everything into those vocals, such a satisfying listen. I do not know if his past material over the last eight years is at this pinnacle, but clearly I need to go back and listen, because I have apparently been missing out. This is must have, in my opinion, for metal fans in general but for sure for die hard ‘80s metal fans that worship the classic releases from bands like Venom, Sodom, Destruction, Iron Maiden, Kreator, Motorhead, Slayer, Bathory, Bulldozer or some newer bands like Aura Noir, Midnight or Toxic Holocaust. Great fucking album!  - Dale

https://hellripper.bandcamp.com/   https://peaceville.com/      

 

 

HERETIQUE

“Bestias Hominum” CD

(Iron Blood And Death Corporation)

 

This is my first time listening to this Black / death metal Polish horde. Though, they have been around for quite some time, I should mention here that ‘Bestias Hominum’ is only their third album since 2012. The members of this band have their share of experience currently or in the past with bands like Spatial, Vastness, Devilish Impressions, Gilotyna and Kryptik. They play death metal and the riffing and production on here is fucking massive and heavy as hell. That was something that struck me right away, their sound hits you like a ton of bricks, and the riffing is rhythmic and catchy while while pummeling you into submission. There is some solid song construction going on as well, which keeps things interesting and really moving forward. The music definitely has a dark atmosphere to it that is pretty satisfying, while managing to inject some soloing and good nuanced guitar bits weaved within those big riffing waves. The growling vocals are deep and brutish yet quite decipherable and clear at the same time. There is a noticeable acidic gurgling and rasping black metal style undertone to his voice often times as well. I think diehard fans of middle and later Behemoth, Vader and late ‘90s / early 2000’s Morbid Angel will find this music quite infectious and gratifying. Another layer that may entice some is there is a loose lyrical theme to this album that sews a quilt together of human cruelty, drawn out of the pages of history from their country, and including the Nazis of course. Give this one a listen.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/heretique666/    https://ironbloodanddeath.bandcamp.com/    

 

 

HJEMSØKT

“Mystikk Og Mørke” MCD & 12” MLP

(Purity Through Fire)

 

There is precious little information that I could find on this band. However, the bit I do know is this band is a duo, consisting of Letaliis and Peregrinus. I know Peregrinus from his other one man bands Solus Grief and Unholy Craft, he is also in Praefuro and Darkest Bethlehem. Now, I only see this Letaliis listed in one place as doing the lyrics and other non-musical things, so outside of lyrics I assume, at least musically, this is another solo band from Peregrinus. The guy is quite prolific, I must say, he has only been releasing with these bands for around two years yet has released six albums and a bunch of demos, EPs etc… in this time!! I am not sure if he is in a super flowing creative state, or has been writing most of this music for years and finally unleashed it all?! Anyways, on to the music of Hjemsokt, which is early to middle ‘90s second wave pagan black metal sung in this bands native Norwegian. The music combines the harsh elements of the cold second wave of Norge bm (ala bands like Darkthrone, Immortal, Aeternus, Satyricon) and mixes it with a more free flowing and sweeping melodic style of bands such as the early works of Enslaved, Kampfar, Hades, Helheim, Borknagar, Taake. I am a bigger admirer of the former bands than the later ones mentioned, but I do like the early releases of a lot of those bands too. Hjemsokt I think marry those two styles quite well, with an even hand and possibly lean a tad more into the harsher territory. Which is how I like it, and when it is done very well with a lot of thought put into the songwriting, from the flow and emotional impact, as on here, then I am pleased as a listener. I should mention the rasping, shadowy vocals, like the rest of the music it conveys the freezing anger along with an epic style delivery, which reflects the more introspective streaming atmospherics. I must say it is refreshing when I see labels/bands call releases under thirty minutes in length EPs, or in this case a mini-album. There are so many out there (and I think it is a rip job) calling releases that are 15, 20 or 25 minutes like this release an album. As a listener, I appreciate the honesty and upstanding behaviour and am always more motivated to further support those labels and bands. So, hails to the band and record label, not only for that fact, but also producing an excellent mini-album that should gratify die hard followers of this amazing style of black metal birthed in the nineties.  - Dale

https://www.purity-through-fire.com    www.youtube.com/user/PurityThroughFire    

 

 

HORRIFIER

“Horrid Resurrection” CD

(Personal Records)

 

Horrifier is a new band, hailing from Norway with just a four song demo to their credit last year. That is until now with the bands debut album, and for those of you that got the demo recording, they have only used one track from the demo on this full-length. So, personally speaking, I like that when bands keep their demos as special as possible and write new material for their first album. Now Horrifier’s music might sound pretty familiar, but that does not mean it is not great, because it is, and it is very well done. I love the balance these guys have struck between excellent skilled performances on their instruments, while also keeping everything kind of loose, dirty and heavy as all fuck! There is some serious grim chainsaw gutfuck on the monstrous riffing on this recording. The drum work here is also an absolutely unrelenting tornado of barely controlled destruction that leaves all busted and broken in it’s wake. As mentioned, within that savagery there is somehow plenty of skillful playing from all quarters, including some refinement in the guitars and song compositions. I love the dark necrotic atmosphere they create that definitely reminds me of Repulsion, Autopsy (ala “Mental Funeral”) and the early releases from Grave. I worship that stuff so much, so I guess it is none too surprising I love this, as mentioned it is so well done that you simply cannot ignore it’s immensity, when done at this level. There is definite hints of old grimy thrash metal and death doom whispers running throughout. It is just the right amount of those elements for me, and speaks to this young bands vision with regards to the songwriting. Before I dip out, I must mention the vocals of Adrian Risøy are so enjoyable for me, again they had me thinking of all-time death growling masters such as Chris Reifert, Jörgen Sandström and Scott Carlson. As I said, you have heard it before, but who cares if you love this style like I do, and it is done this masterfully, from the top to the bottom. Get this.   - Dale

https://horrifiermetal.bandcamp.com/    https://personal-records.bandcamp.com/    

 

 

HOUSE OF ATREUS

“Orations” MCD & 12'' MLP

(Iron Bonehead Records)

 

Okay, these guys surprised me and kind of blew me away with their energy and ferocity, immediately upon hitting play. Minnesota’s House Of Atreus is largely unknown to me (outside of the tangential connection of one of the members being from the band Maledicere), despite the fact they have already released two full-length albums. I must make up for lost time now, with this band, based upon this mini-album’s quality. The riffing on this album is absolutely non-stop, it just keeps coming, great riff after great riff! The lightning pace of the songwriting gives you nearly zero room for a breather, between every razor riff. I do not want to under sell the quality of the songs themselves, as it shows a strong level of skill and imagination, but it is understandable if you have trouble getting past the barrage of massive, monstrous riffage. It is hard believe with these hyper-speed tempos, that there is in fact some more refined guitar work going in the background, if you are able to pay it proper attention as you are being battered. This crackling and electric energy is also accentuated and supported further by some frenzied, sort of guitar solos, which seep through the tiny gaps in that adrenaline filled raging main riffs in each song. The drummer gets quite the work out as well, as he does admirably manage to keep up and command as much attention as he does on here. The singer Anxietous Nero (yes, they all have Greek mythology influenced names) belts and bellows out some pretty sweet, gruff, yelling thrash style vocals that have an aggressive growling, slight rasping edge to them. His vocals match up to the music nicely. If you love ferocious, intense music of the death thrashing variety with heaping helpings of speed metal, and an undercurrent of heavy metal then you really need to do yourself a favour and check out what is going on here.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/acclimatedbyforce    https://ironbonehead.de/    

 

 

HYPERDONTIA

“Deranged” CD EP, 12” Vinyl EP & Cassette EP

(Dark Descent Records & Me Saco Un Ojo Records)

 

This is my first dance as reviewer, or listener, to Hyperdontia yet they are not a new band having already released two albums, and a slew of EPs and splits. Their members, who spread out across the countries of Turkey and Denmark are even longer in the tooth in the UG than Hyperdontia, as band. Their members have seen time in bands like Decaying Purity, Septage, Apparatus, Sulphurous, Diabolizer, Taphos, Phrenelith and more. Now, I see this band listed everywhere as a straight up death metal band, and to be fair they are that in spades, not sure about past releases, but their thrash metal game is also strong here. Their material has really good flow, and is also really like chunky heavy, despite them being quite technical and a bit busy at times. The transition work through that crushing heavy sound and intricate songsmith-ing, is silky smooth, showing off the maturity of the musicians involved. The vocals, courtesy of guitarist Mathias Friborg are fantastic on this recording; he has some strong range and variation on his myriad of subtle growling voices, which I find quite satisfying. The material is fast and lends itself very well to headbanging along, I am sure they are a good live band, assuming with the country divide that they do indeed even play live. There is a dark and evil yet swampy aura that spreads across their music, which is the perfect counterpoint to the sharp crispness of the technicality, and hectic song structures. I think fans of bands like Disciples Of Power, Phrenelith, Incantation, Ripping Corpse, Dead Congregation, Sadus, Gorguts, Immolation etc… will love this shit.   - Dale

hyperdontiaofficial.bandcamp.com    www.darkdescentrecords.com    www.mesacounojo.com  

 

 

IKU-TURSO

“Ikuinen Kirous” MCD & MLP

(Purity Through Fire)

 

This Finnish band has been around since releasing their debut record about six years ago. Since then they have released a slew of splits, EPs and a couple subsequent full-length albums. Despite this, maybe sadly for me, this is a my first encounter with this interesting band. The members of which have plenty of experience in other bands such as Order Of Nosferat, Nachtvrucht, Wrathage, Alkuharmonian Kantaja, From the Void, Serpentfyre and more. Now, normally I am not the biggest devotee of the heavy use of keyboards in black metal (what is often referred to as symphonic bm). However with Iku-Turso, the way they employ them is to my liking. They are haunting yet played aggressively at high speeds, which really suits and enhances the cold steel hatred of the underlying traditional instruments. The style of this band is challenging, while also quite familiar (it’s foundation surely being early ‘90s second wave Scandinavian black metal), they do things, and present certain elements in pretty unique ways at times. There is some good traditional black metal rhythms that will freeze your soul, as they drip with free flowing disgust. The one thing that might surprise here, with all of that icy vitriol I am describing is that the music is explosive, and filled with an electric grandiosity of adrenalized bombast. It is a truly interesting mixture. The vocals of Lafawijn (who is from The Netherlands, the only non-Finnish member) have this wonderful grating quality at times, always crackling with an intense energy that I found quite addictive to listen to. He varies his vocal style in some songs, sometimes within a single song. His vocals always possess a harsh classic bm rasping base, yet as mentioned, his arsenal of weapons is quite varied and within that seething hate he manages to express different shades of emotive hatred. There is some added vocals from other members from time to time (without over use IMO), such as a more clean style, but never done in any kind of lame operatic or pretty way. Anyone who reads a lot of my reviews, knows I hate it when labels, in my opinion, mislead people calling EPs an album. But this is quite the opposite, I seen one place call this an EP, the promo material here lists it as a mini-album, but it is 37 minutes long, so I would be comfortable calling this release an album. But, I respect it if the label and band see it as something shorter than that, and commend them for stating so, when it would be easy not to do so. This is some truly provocative black metal that does takes what we all know so well, and puts a different spin to it. You really should give this a try.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/ikutursobm    https://shop.purity-through-fire.com/       

 

 

INCANTATION

“Unholy Deification” CD, LP & Cassette

(Relapse Records)

 

I do not think I have even reviewed very many Incantation releases over the decades. But my relationship as a listener goes really far fucking back, to a time when I bought very first classic 7’’ EP “Entrantment Of Evil” on Seraphic Decay Records. No, admittedly not right away when it was released, it was about a year later (1991) from a distro. I frequented at the time. That is how the UG scene worked back then, shit moved a lot slower and did not sell out online ten minutes after it was announced for pre-sale haha! Needless to say it was not long after that that that their debut album came out and I was already a fan, but now I was hooked on this great band. Speaking of “Unholy Deification”, it is a great death metal killer of a record, and these old veterans just keep battling it out and slaying all in their path. They keep churning out good stuff and they have maybe never been more influential in the UG death metal scene than they are now. There has practically been a whole new sub-genre battalion of bands that draw heavily on Incantation and handful of other choice bands (ala Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, Abhorrence, Convulsed etc…) in recent years. This album not surprisingly brings the doom end of things with a slow yet heavy hand, which produces some slow pulverizing sequences and produces a very necro graveyard creepy aura across all the music. While the doomy elements are permeating and strong, it is not like never speed up, because they do, just not that much. You are not going hear any extended grinding and juggernaut blast beating, but it is a nice mix of doom death and just embryonic death metal style song crafting. I really am enjoying this album a lot, for me, this is probably my fave out of the last four albums and that is saying something, believe you me. As oft is the case the underlying guitar work is classy and a underrated highlight. Maybe it is partly the trip down memory lane talking here, but I feel like the song construction on this album goes back a lot to those early days of yore, heavy and crushing yet straight forward in a very satisfying way. It is no secret that line up changes have been frequent with Incantation, with McEntee and drummer Kyle Severn being the only real constants since the beginning onward (though the great Chuck Sherwood has stabilized the bass guitar position for a long time now). This turbulence has certainly affected the important vocal position as much or more than any other, so in my opinion it was a very wise move for John McEntee to take over the vocal duties. I am sure he was reluctant to do so for many years, as it is probably a bit of a pain the ass live to deal with this and be the foundation of the band on guitar. But since 2004 he has managed to do so. This release is as good of an example as any that his excellent growling vocals fit the band like a glove. His vocals are the perfect compliment to the music and a big credit to the man to accept this challenge and succeed at a high level, after about twenty years in bands never doing vocals. While not every Incantation album is a classic, some are better than others, but their level of consistency of output and quality over a 30+ year term is pretty fucking impressive and highly commendable in my view. I would place “Unholy Deification” in that upper echelon of the say top half dozen (out of thirteen total) albums the band has released in their history. If you are a fan of the band you do need this one.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/IncantationOfficial    https://www.relapse.com/       

 

 

INFECTED PRIEST / HUMAN TARGET

“Split Tape” Cassette EP

(Nihilistic Holocaust Records)

 

These two Finnish bands feature members that are clearly quite active in the UG scene. There are no members of Infected Priest in Human Target, or vice versa. However, there is members of both bands that are in other bands together like Murder Hollow, Necromutilation, ex-Vulvarine. So, I am sure that is why it was so natural to pair these bands, and likely the respective bands idea to do a split together. This split tape consists of 13 songs, for around 25 minutes of music, and the songs are pulled from both bands freshly released EPs. Starting off side one is Infected Priest,they play brutalizing death metal with grindcore flourishes, to further scramble your brains. The riffing and echo-y, cavernous production is so fucking heavy and massive! They keep things always moving forward, no time wasted on solos or extreme technicality and they do not forget to give you something to headbang hard along with. The drum work really resounds, it is a precise and dominating performance. The vocals are coarse and raw growls that bully you into submission and cut you open with accents of higher gurgling undercurrents. Infected Priest definitely remind me to some of the classic British death metal bands Napalm Death, Bolt Thrower and Benediction. Tasty stuff. Flipping over to side two. Human Target is not to be out done, they have a little clearer and more concise production, but it is still raw and heavy enough to make things enjoyable for me. These guys are no less crushing yet definitely have a bit more of a refined sound, and style, often keeping things more in the middle paced territory. They like to throw in some chunky bass guitar touches in the extra space provided by their style of songwriting. They might not pummel as much as the previous band, but they match them with some hefty and memorable riffing with small wisps of melody seeping through the cracks. They maybe have a little more Carcass in them than Infected Priest, but I hear a lot of influence in the vocals from the mighty Dave Ingram of Benediction! Who is a vocal god in my books, and the vocals of Heikki kick some ass as well, he even throws in a high gurgling screech, now and then. Human Target write some interesting lyrics, and sarcastically funny yet sick song titles like "Blind Slavemaster", "Necromutilation (Methamphetamine Fueled Werewolf)", and "Frankenstein's Fuckdoll" Haha! This split is a blast, you should get a copy. The tape and fold out cover look fantastic, but this release quite limited, so if you are at all interested do not wait, because they will be sold out quickly I am sure.   - Dale

http://nihilistic-webzine-distro.fr/    https://nihilisticholocaustrecs.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

INSURRECTION

“Exiled To Earth” Digipak CD EP

(Tunnelgeur Records / Self Released?)

 

Coming out of the Netherlands is Insurrection. Since 2015 the band has released one EP and one full length album (on Big Bad Wolf Records, out of their homeland) so far. The band returns with their new EP ‘Exiled To Earth’ containing four songs that blends traditional thrash, and melododeath elements with a little progressive influence to create an interesting sound and style. First up is “Hopeless and Below”, which is a very well written and performed song that possesses an upbeat, energetic vibe. The guitars showcase a strong skill and experience level. The vocals are a mix of traditional growling screams and gruff thrash style high pitched screams.”The End Of Honesty” is performed with a mix of fast and slower mid paced guitars alongside heavily emotive, melody driven fills and almost cheerful synth accents. “In Terram Extorres” is a instrumental that showcases the bands playing ability starting off with an melodic guitar tone, almost power metal sounding at times, the song does contain sped up flourishes throughout to keep to keep things interesting. “Crimson Skies” is the final track and is also the fastest song on the release with fast paced whirlwind guitars runs.The drumming is top notch with some amazing passages. Insurrection combines traditional thrash with a strong emphasis on harmony and heavy melodic passages that gives the release a nice mix of styles. This will not be for everyone, especially if like things on the more extreme side, but if you enjoy thrash metal with progressive elements and melody mixed in with short touches of aggression then you should give ‘Exiled To Earth’ a listen today.   - Patrick

https://insurrectionofficial.bandcamp.com/    https://www.facebook.com/Tunnelgeur       

 

 

IRON MONKEY

“Spleen And Goad” CD & LP

(Relapse Records)

 

I was pleasantly surprised to see Iron Monkey are still around, or more like back around again. I reviewed their “Our Problem” album over 25 years ago, when it first came out! Just checking into some dates for a minute, it looks like they split up about a year later and reformed a while back. They only have two original members left, but back then they were a five piece band, and now they a trio, so really two-thirds of the current band are original members. So that is cool. I think you could probably put Iron Monkey up there with the first or early second wave of sludge doom metal bands, coming closely on the heels of bands like Eyehategod, Acid Bath, Grief, Noothgrush, Crowbar and of course none of this is possible without the grandfathers doom Black Sabbath. There is some really heavy, slow yet not too slow, monster riffs on here slapped with a coating of dark and murky sludge. Which I find extremely enjoyable and I say sludge, but they tend not be as feedback laden and screechy with it. This is where the stoner doom influences come in riding the line between that catchy Kyuss style fuzz pummel. That riffing is so infectious, it is hypnotic and almost ritualistic in a superb way. So one this is for certain, these guys did not mellow with age as they are still harsh, crushing, caustic and pissed off. This is reflected perfectly by founding member Jim Rushby (previously the guitarist only, he replaced the sadly long deceased vocalist Johnny Morrow). Jim absolutely takes a cheese grater to his vocal chords and shreds them with volatile aplomb and energy. He verbally creates an impressive tornado swath of destruction. It is damn good to have Iron Monkey back, and they are back in a big way!   - Dale

https://ironmonkey.bandcamp.com/   https://www.relapse.com/       

 

 

IRON VOID

“IV” CD, LP & Cassette

(Shadow Kingdom Records)

 

I reviewed this United Kingdom bands previous album, about five years ago. I had not looked into the member’s history that much, the last time around, something you know I usually like to do. I was a little surprised to find, that at least two of the members of this trio have quite an extensive black metal bands history. It is not that often that you see black metal musician’s crossing over into the doom realms in a big way. But Iron Void is just that, in spades, as they play a very satisfying brand of traditional doom metal with a heavy bent toward the old sounds of the genre. This album has a bit of a stoner doom fuzziness to their guitar sound, but the Void is definitely not a stoner doom band at all, besides that tangential element in their sound. It has been some time since I listened to their last album “Excalibur”, but just going off of memory, I feel this album has a little heavier and darker lean than that album, and not quite as upbeat and triumphant musically. Though having said that, the same great downtrodden, moody and melancholy trademark Iron Void aspects are very present here and welcome to my ears. I must say the aura and atmosphere they manage to consistently blanket the entire album with is pretty delicious, as is some of the splendid classy guitar work and nuances. The vocalist Jonathan Seale truly has a feel for those classic old school style vocals and puts in an excellent, emotive vocal performance here. I can not imagine this album not pleasing fellow doom diehards like myself who worship Black Sabbath, The Obsessed, Spirit Caravan, Solitude Aeturnus, Pagan Altar, Pentagram, Saint Vitus and the like. So, if that applies to you, you know what to do.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/ironvoid   https://shadowkingdomrecords.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

JAG PANZER

“The Hallowed” CD & Double LP

(Atomic Fire Records)

 

The American heavy metal legends are still alive! It is damn impressive in my book that 40 years (!!!) after their first release, the band still has three original members in the band. Despite my being a fan of this band going back into the ‘80s with their debut album, which was released in my native Canada by the mighty Banzai Records, I must confess to losing track of them somewhere along the way. I believe I lost track of their activities after their solid 2001 album “Mechanized Warfare”. Nonetheless, it is good to re-connect with them after all these years. I should also note for metal history buffs like myself, this album is out on Atomic Fire Records, which is the new-ish label of Markus Staiger, whose name you might recognize as the founder and long time former owner of Nuclear Blast Records. Alright, yes, I digress. It is incredibly cool to see, and hear for that matter, sixty year old dudes still producing and playing classic heavy metal! This is exactly what you get on ‘The Hallowed’, no wimp out shit here; you get some stylish and mature heavy metal with superb performances from all corners. The boys still know to write interesting heavy riffs, and tasty leads, alongside catchy and memorable songwriting. Possibly one of the most impressive things is Harry “The Tyrant” Conklin’s vocals still sound amazing, all these decades down the line. He may be an elder statesman, who is within spitting distance of retirement age with his AARP card coming in the mail soon, but this bad ass can still belt it! He still has that silky smooth voice that runs up and down the register, and he can still hit those siren highs with seeming ease and power. I love to listen to this man sing, whether it is in his other bands Satan’s Host or Titan Force, and especially Jag Panzer of course. This album is comes recommended from me, to any newer school and above all old school power heavy metal diehards.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/jagpanzerofficial   https://label.atomicfire-records.com/      

 

 

KOSTNATĚNÍ

"Úpal” CD, LP & Cassette

(Willowtip Records)

 

This is the one man American band Kostnatění, who have previously put out a demo, an EP, and their debut album over the past five years. Much like all good one man bands, had you not known everything was created and performed by one individual, you would have never guessed it to be so. Such is the case with Kostnatění, who produce an extreme, harsh and evil style of music yet this is also a tremendously progressive and inventively unique style. By that, I mean main man D.L. very skillfully incorporates some interesting, and distinctive melodies from I don’t know where, it sounds like it could be some sort of middle eastern, Asian or possibly African traditional music influence. I know, I know, that would immediately get my back up too, and think ‘oh hell no’, but hear me out. This guy incorporates it into his song construction in a way where it does not water down, lighten up or kill the extreme black metal core of the music. I say that, for some that might not turn them off at all, but normally that would turn me off, as it does in bands that heavily mix folk music into second wave black metal or heavily into death metal. Most of the time, that sort of thing effectively kills the essence of the extreme music it is mixed into, rendering it largely impotent to me. I mean do not get me wrong there are brief moments of that, but they are few and far between, and relatively minor. Mostly it just adds a new dimension to the harshness and the evil black metal sounds. I do not think you could even combine it this way without being careful not to let dilution over power anything. It takes some vision and talent to pull it all off; these are things D.L. clearly possesses, and to me it seems to be his intention. I could see in future where he could lose the plot; I hope it does not though, as he seems to have found a superb balance and own style on ‘Úpal’. I see some comparing this to early Deathspell Omega, I can see it, but to me Kostnatění while somewhat similar, still walks it’s own path. I love when the vocals get really crazy and out of control, like a tortured spirit mixed of early Burzum vocals with the vocals of Canadian UG legends Lust. If you are okay to try out something that is progressive, adventurous yet sinister and extreme you should give this album a try. This is coming from someone who is often hard headed, and a bit of a purist with metal of all stripes.  - Dale

https://kostnateni.bandcamp.com/   https://www.willowtip.com/        

 

 

KRVNA

“Rhythmus Of Death Eternal” Digipack Digipack MCD

(Zazen Sounds)

 

This band is the work of one man, the Australian Krvna Vatra, who is also a member of multi-musician bands Dearthe, and the veteran Aussie band Pestilential Shadows. Despite Krvna only putting out releases since 2021, Vatra already has a demo, and two full-length albums under his belt. Which brings us up to date with this MCD, I seen this listed as an EP, but it said nothing about the two cover tracks (more on that later) on this release, which help bring the run time up near the thirty minute mark, and thus full value IMO for that mini-album status. There is three new original tracks on here, all are in the seven to eight minute range, but none feel like they were designed to be epic hymns. No, they flow nicely and the song lengths feel pretty organic to me. The music on here is decidedly black metal, through and through. While the foundation of their sound to me is early ‘90s, second wave black metal that seethes with hate and freezing Stygian blackness. There is also a more flowing, atmospheric (no, do not read that and think symphonic) layering that sweeps across sections of the music, and brings a different kind of sinister audio shadow creeping across the hate like a rapid fog. Krvna Vatra has a knack for weaving in drawn out guitar sequences with an introspective and/or emotional, affecting feeling, as a counterpoint to the cold malevolent darkness. This all gives a broad depth to the sound and experience of the music, a smooth, skillful juxtaposition of these two disparate musical elements, to create one lethal musical movement. The vocals are superb, traditional bm rasping yells that drip with venom and malice. Now, finally on to the two cover songs, those being the interesting, and good choice of Abigor’s “As Astral Images Darken Reality” from their 1995 album ‘Nachthymnen…’. The other being a much more common band choice, though not a common song to cover, with Bathory’s “Man Of Iron” from the ‘Blood On Ice’ album. Both are well done, and interesting enough, if you are not tired of cover songs, which luckily for me I am not. This release is apparently a co-release Third Eye Temple, who will release the cassette version, as well a vinyl version is on the horizon from Brilliant Emperor Records at some point. Whichever version you decide to try, I can recommend this release, and now I will look forward to the next album, in the meantime.   - Dale

https://krvna.bandcamp.com/    https://www.zazensounds.com/        

 

 

LAMP OF MURMUUR

"Saturnian Bloodstorm” CD & LP

(Argento Records & Not Kvlt Records)

 

Lamp Of Murmuur (my brain for some reason whenever I read that name, changes the a to a u) is a one man band from Los Angeles, California. Now I am familiar with Lamp, but not overly familiar with their output, as prior to this the only recordings I had by the band is one of their three 2019 demos, the debut recording “Thunder Vigil And Ecstasy”, and one of their two 2020 demos “The Burning Spears Of Crimson Agony”. So, I am little behind the game with this lone wolfs output, this album marks his third full-length, preceded by no less than five demos, three splits and a lone EP. While the black metal music on this recording may be slightly less lo-fi, and slightly less raw, not to mention a bit more controlled and focused, it is still not so different or any less haunting or deadly. My first listen through this album, before even looking at the song titles or reading the bio, I kept getting the feeling of the early albums of Immortal. Then I thought on the fifth song, man this track could be on the first Immortal album, and then the song title starts getting repeated again, and again “In Communion With The Wintermoon”, Immortal indeed! I very much dig it though, and I fucking love early Immortal unabashedly, so... Though I could maybe mention the guitar sound is actually a little more akin to “At the Heart of Winter”. While it is true that Lamp Of Murmuur rely on it, the highly effective and haunting synth, more than some it’s second wave bm peers. The traditional instruments of guitar and drums are still very high in prominence, as well as strong in the mix of this recording. Both (somewhat separate in my mind) elements are prominent, and integral to the music of here and a great balance has been struck, so as not to drown out one or the other. Despite the cold and callous nature of the cold black metal sound, there is also a fair amount of melody and memorable rhythm injected in Lamp’s audio darkness. The vocals of Mister “M” is also a highlight for me, some very commanding and understandable harsh rasping, again quite Abbath-like, which inject a level of intensity and venom into the proceedings. “Saturnian Bloodstorm” is an excellent album, and clearly also a message to me that I need to go back and collect more of this one man project’s back catalog.  - Dale

https://lampofmurmuur.bandcamp.com    https://wolvesofhades.myshopify.com/         

 

 

LEATHÜRBITCH

"Shattered Vanity” CD, LP & Cassette

(Shadow Kingdom Records)

 

Leathürbitch out of Oregon is a new band for me, despite this being their second album. They craft some heavy / speed metal that grabbed me pretty quickly, and just does not seem to want to let go. In my view, a great vocalist is needed for this style, and Joel Starr really brings it on this record. Joel has that slick and strong mid level base to his voice, but seemingly hits various shouts, yells and screams on the wild siren register with ease, wonderfully fleshing out that smooth base. This band has a penchant for high octane, rapid paced metal that will keep you engaged and keyed up, it will probably force you to do a little headbanging too, which is never a bad thing. I dig the high speed animated yet classy sounding guitar fills and solos, which dip in and out with excited purpose. Despite the up tempo pacing and energy that often is the bands trademark; they do manage to leave space for emotive beats and sections that bring a little extra weight to the proceedings. Which is all highlighted by some really catchy and memorable songwriting, punctuated by infectious choruses and lyrics that will continue to swim through your brain after you are done listening. If I was going to make even an admittedly tiny critique, they could sprinkle in a few more of those more moody, slightly slower sections now and again. I think it would add even more depth to their already solid material. This album is one for diehards of old school heavy metal and speed metal. I would say this is for fans of stuff like Raven, Savage Grace, King Diamond, Accept, Manilla Road, early Grave Digger, early Motley Crue, early Queensryche, Jag Panzer, Helstar, Omen, Sanctuary and the like. If those bands and that period of time float your boat, sail away with Leathürbitch.  - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/HeavyChains/   https://www.shadowkingdomrecords.com/       

 

 

LEPER COLONY

"Self Titled” Digipak CD

(Transcending Obscurity Records)

 

This band is a triumvirate of musicians that are storied veterans in the scene and include vocalist Marc Grewe (Insidious Disease & longtime vocalist of the excellent Morgoth), drummer Jon Skäre (Consumption, Defiatory, Gore Brigade) and on guitar/bass is the extremely busy Rogga Johansson (Paganizer, Ribspreader, Revolting, Massacre, Johansson & Speckmann plus tons more!). Leper Colony produce some really quality, multifaceted yet extremely faithful old school death metal music that I find pretty satisfying. They bring to the table killer headbang inducing riffs, heavy brutality and all the while, at times, manage to inject a level of atmosphere and emotive tension. There is some solid guitar work on here with some nice guitar fills and the odd smoking solo. The drumming here is commanding and powerful, while surely also benefiting from a really solid drum production on this record. That brings us to the vocals, as good as the music is Grewe’s performance is a fucking tour de force, where he combines a myriad of styles together including his trademark monstrous growl and sprinkles in off-kilter, unhinged screams and screeches, all topped off with a Tom Araya style gruff thrash voice. The vocals are a real highlight for this album. If you are, as I am, a big old school death metal enthusiast and love classic stuff like Death, Morgoth, Asphyx, Pestilence, Slayer, Possessed, Cancer, Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Pestilence and the like then you will dig this album.  - Dale

www.facebook.com/lepercolony    www.facebook.com/transcendingobscurity    https://tometal.com      

 

 

 

MALLEUS

“The Fires Of Heaven” CD & LP

(Armageddon Label)

 

Coming out of Boston Massachusetts is Malleus, who are a band that plays a ‘90s style of blackened death metal. ‘The Fires Of Heaven’ is the bands debut featuring eight songs of well delivered and executed death metal. The guitars are played with extremely fast paced passages that showcase some skillful playing. The guitarist does slow to a mid paced range while playing some interesting sequences and impressive song designs. In some of the songs you can hear the guitarist go into a thrashy pacing which gives the band even more of a unique and original sound. The drumming is done in the same vein with hyperspeed fast drums and solid drum work in general. As is the case with the guitarist, the drums do slow to a more middle paced range at times in the songs. The vocalist does a great job with his raw, raspy black metal screams that fit the bands musical style perfectly. If you are a fan of well played music then definitely give this impressive debut release by Malleus a spin, you will not be disappointed.  - Patrick

https://malleusheavymetal.bandcamp.com    https://armageddonlabel.bandcamp.com   

 

 

 

MARTYRDOOM

“As Torment Prevails” CD

(Memento Mori Records)

 

I missed out on this Polish bands debut album some years back, but I am here front and center, for the follow up. The music on here is exudes a massive aura of grimy sickness and evil gloom that encapsulates the listener in a thick mist of musical oppression. This is doomy death metal of the highest order we are talking about, it may be on the slow side, but it never really slows to a crawl and always keeps the stream going in an ever flowing state of methodical forward momentum. They really have a great classic guitar sound on here, which they shape nicely through their song construction into some really heavy riffs you can plod your headbang along to. They also manage to mold the songwriting in a way that creates tension and foreboding, which is crafted in a very satisfying way to this listener at least. The influences this band draws from pulls straight at my heart, and mind, with so many great old bands I absolutely worship. I listen to this and I hear bits and pieces from Autopsy, Morgoth, Benediction, Rippikoulu, Grave, Asphyx, Obituary, Demigod, Convulse and a couple other wonderful bands cut from a similar cloth. While this album may not be different enough to be essential to some. But, if you are like this old goat, and you can not get enough of these old sounds, especially when it is done at this level then you know what you need to do. P.S. - If that is not enough to sell you, maybe the cherry on the top will be a great cover of “Caught In The Grip Of Winter”, from Autopsy’s ‘Mental Funeral’, which of course is one of the greatest dm albums of all time.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/martyrdoomdeath    http://www.memento-mori.es/   

 

 

MAULE

“Maule” CD

(Gates of Hell Records)

 

Maule is a new band hailing from the west coast of Canada and after one demo, they now present us their debut full-length album. I have to say one of the first things that struck me was for a new band whose members largely have little to no previous band experience, their level of skill is high and their performance on their instruments shows off a smooth polish usually reserved for veteran musicians. This band writes some extremely lively, catchy heavy metal songs that stick in your head and leave an impression. The singer while he does not hit those crazy siren levels you sometimes see with this old heavy metal style, he has a strong enough range from clean to shouted, to screams with a charismatic sounding voice to really pull off this bands ambitious sound. It is, in my opinion, imperative to properly pull off traditional NWOBHM inspired sound / style that you have to have a really strong vocalist and Maule have found that in guitarist Jakob "Riddle of Steel" Weel. Some of the guitar work on here from the gorgeous fills to the galloping head bobbing riffing to the engrossing way it is all incorporated into the song arrangements. There are many great influences I hear on here, but none more prominent than Iron Maiden. Maybe you would just rather listen to the classic albums of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal than something new. But if you can not get enough of those amazing traditional sounds from the early ‘80s, then I have something here you really need to check out.  - Dale

https://maule.bandcamp.com/    https://www.gatesofhellrecords.com     

 

 

MERIDION

"Caverns" Digipak CD

(Iron Blood And Death Corporation)

 

Meridion is a four man band coming out of Chile's death metal scene. The band features two members from the long running death metal band Trimegisto, as well as no less than three ex-members of Heretics, so these guys have been around and paid their dues in the UG scene. ‘Caverns’ is the second full length album from Meridion, it features eight tracks of heavy, crushing death metal at it's best. Each song is well composed and performed with utmost dedication and vigor. Whether it is a heavy, chugging mid paced or a faster more brutal approach both styles are delivered with intensity. The band does have some doomish elements added into a few of the songs. It is a little surprising that there is a synth presence (maybe a slight early Nocturnus influence possibly) with those heavy, brutish sounds, but it is blended well into the background much of the time. The vocals are powerful death metal growls that fit this bands musical style perfectly with some clean voice accents once in a while. If you are a fan of dark, morbid death metal then be sure to pick up a copy of ‘Caverns’ today.   - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/meridionoccult/   https://ironbloodanddeath.bandcamp.com/        

 

 

MIRROR

“The Day Bastard Leaders Die” CD & LP

(Cruz Del Sur Music)

 

This is the third album from Mirror, a band with an international line-up. This is of particular note for me at least, as the ranks feature a talented musician on bass guitar named Tasos Danazoglou (vocalist of Satan’s Wrath on Metal Blade Recs., drummer of Friends Of Hell on Rise Above Recs. (Lee Dorian from Napalm Death / Cathedral’s label), as well as an ex-member of Electric Wizard)). Yeah I know I do that a lot, but I love band history shit and background as you know. Okay yes onward to the music of Mirror, who play traditional heavy metal of yesteryear in every way. I could see the vocals of Jimmy Mavrommatis being an acquired taste for some as they are painfully early ‘80s, being very high pitched soaring, even siren-like at times. There are enough bands these days playing that early heavy style, but not a lot of them port over that style of vocal along with it. I like those vocals even though there is some infrequent times where they fall short, but I still end up loving them as they have a certain timelessness for me and Jimmy possesses enough natural charisma for me to dig them. The music is very clean and smooth with strong songwriting that is a bit on the simple side yet still nuanced and catchy. They do speed things up from time to time to a galloping pace, a little more of that would be welcome in all honesty, not mention maybe a little more grit and darkness to their sound. Some of that might be due to the production needing a little in that lower end and bite within the mix. Yet the final two tracks “Sleepy Eyes Of Death”, and “The Day Bastard Leaders Die” might argue against my production theory as both songs happily have more of what I am hoping for, so maybe we see more of that going forward with Mirror? But those are minor complaints; the music is very solid, very enjoyable and even a touch infectious at times to boot. This is definitely worth checking out if you love early ‘80s melodious heavy metal.  - Dale

https://stareatthemirrorandweep.bandcamp.com/   https://cruzdelsurmusic.bandcamp.com/      

 

 

MORK

"Dypet” CD & LP

(Peaceville Records)

 

It has been quite some time since I listened to any of Mork’s music, but I guess their sixth album is as good a time to catch up, as any, right? Mork is, and has been, essentially a one man Norwegian band (which is Thomas Eriksen) since the beginning. Though, at least in recent years, he keeps a full band to play live shows and do some touring. I feel like some of the second wave of black metal sound, and influence has melted away since the earlier days, but it is still there strongly enough. There is a strong duality here of evil and cold second wave black metal combined with a haunting, somewhat heavy metal tinged sense of melody ala a Root/King Diamond/Mortuary Drape, Death SS style vibe (I am only speaking to the guitars and nothing else from K.D.). The songwriting mixes things up well from callous, grating darkness to gloomy melancholy, and emotive bombast all in one song ala the epic track “Et Kall Fra Dypet”. One thing that has not changed is the great, harshly caustic and rasping bm vocals, which I dig. I feel with this album, it is more of an overall experience, rather than being able to pick out a fave song or two, you need to play the whole thing through for proper effect. I am not saying this is essential, but it is a good album that showcases Thomas’ years of experience as a songwriter come to bear as he continues to perfect that balance he is looking for. I would like to also say you should search out the Mork Youtube channel (link below), as Thomas puts episodes of a podcast he does, where he interviews other musicians (often black metal ones) face to face. Like this album, the podcast too is well done and well worth a listen.  - Dale

https://www.youtube.com/@MorkHalden    http://www.peaceville.com/       

 

 

MORTA SKULD

“Creation Undone” CD & LP

(Peaceville Records)

 

Some little tingles of nostalgia hit me as soon as I seen this name. I go way back with Morta Skuld, as I tape traded for their demos in the early 1990s, and then was a fan of their middle ‘90s albums. After that I kind of lost track of them, I do not even think I heard their 1997 album until many years later. I knew they broke up around 1998. Oh, I should mention I also reviewed a compilation album of their demos and other things, which Relapse Records put out over a decade ago. But, it was only a few years ago that I knew they had reformed and were kicking ass in the UG scene once again. As near as I can tell currently guitarist / vocalist Dave Gregor is the only member from the original ‘90s line up. Since reforming in 2012 Morta has released two albums, and an EP, prior to this new album. That is not the most prolific pace, but you could make the argument it is quality over quantity, with those two previous albums being bangers. So how does the new album, Skuld’s seventh overall, stack up? The answer is pretty damn well, honestly. This record is an excellent piece of old school death, it keeps up that late ‘80s and early ‘90s classic sound wonderfully. I mean this could have come out in the early part of that decade and not sound out of place, not to mention this is probably some of better music Morta Skuld has produced in their long tenure. It is straight forward, it is dark and heavy as hell, it sets a great tone and atmosphere from the start to finish. There is some great riffs on here, and quality songwriting that features some tasty guitar fills and brief solos. It rumbles along at times, while rapidly battering and bruising the next minute. The drum performance by ex-Jungle Rot drummer Eric House, is strong and commanding, he really punishes his kit with sweet precision. They still have that signature Skuld sound, which speaks to founding member Dave Gregor’s strong song construction, he has not lost his touch all of these decades down the road. Dave’s growling vocals are deep, brutish yet extremely clear hitting that sweet spot of barbarity while being entirely clear enough to understand each and every word he belts out. Yeah his vocals are great, he enunciates through his growls so well and his voice is so classic sounding to me. If you love old school death metal, and like me can not get enough of it, then you need to get your hands on this album as soon as possible.   - Dale

https://www.facebook.com/MortaSkuld/    https://peaceville.bandcamp.com/       

 

 

THE MOSAIC WINDOW

“Plight Of Acceptance" CD & LP

(Willowtip Records)

 

I have to admit, and if you read enough Canadian Assault, you likely know I am not the biggest fan of melodic death, or black metal. Which, should tell you this California one man band did a pretty damn good job of winning me over, as you could call this album melodic black death metal. I feel like not only is the songwriting that strong, but it also strikes a admirable balance between the extreme elements, and the melodic sides of the musical coin. The guitar sound and riffing, while still conveying a rhythmic, flowing nature is also extremely heavy with a nice raw edge. As does the vocals, which are strong and commanding with an obscured sung whispering growl, that is intermingled and overlapped with a couple strong cleaner voices. That mix written down on the page here, probably does not do justice to just how well this all melds together. The voice is both smooth and raw at the same time, with punctuated flourishes of evil acidic elongation. I have to mention that while I would call this a black death band, there is clearly some classic heavy influence in the guitar work, and a touch of infectious thrash definition to those excellent riffs. I am sure some will listen to this, and wonder how I can come to this conclusion, but listen closely and I swear I hear a King Diamond influence in the song construction, and the vocal delivery. It is subtle, but for me clearly there, on the vocal side, no no high operatic siren vocals, but more on King’s grittier moments and in the delivery style. I swear I hear that in there, which surprised me, but also pleased me, as I am huge KD fan from way, way back. Those stylistic influences absolutely rear their head in the some of the more nuanced guitar sequences, during the fills and brief solo work. All of which, I find combines into a very satisfying package on this album. Now, I will leave one caveat, which is a future one, and that is this balance is a very careful one that is kind of poised on a knife’s edge. By that I mean, at least for me, as a fan of this music, if those heavy and extreme elements (production included) go too far into the harmonious realms then it risks falling off of that knife’s edge. I mean unless he wants to go full heavy metal and King Diamond, I will be there for that Haha. Supposing it morphs into pure melodo black death with softened edges and too much of what I call pretty, then I will be out. But, if Andrew sticks to this formula, I will be very excited to listen to his next album. Because this one is very good for the here and now, which shows a ton of potential for down the road.   - Dale

https://themosaicwindow.bandcamp.com/    https://www.willowtip.com/       

 

 

MUTILATED BY ZOMBIES

“Scenes From The Afterlife” CD & LP

(Redefining Darkness Records)

 

I listen to and review a lot of Redefining Darkness bands, so I am not sure how I slept this long on Mutilated By Zombies, but I did. That streak has ended, and I am now introduced to what I have been missing out on with this impressive Iowa band. Maybe the fact that it has been six years since their last album had a little to do with it, possibly they are perfectionists? I could see that being the case with the high level of songwriting skill on display with this album. Mutilated play a highly enjoyable and massive style of crushingly heavy, razor sharp and technical death in the classic American death metal style. There actually is a relatively strong amount of rhythmic tunefulness going on here in the midst of all of that. But do not get me wrong here, we are not talking melodeath territory, no, the music here is far too heavy and severe for that kind of talk, in my view. They also have a penchant for song construction that, while it can change on a dime, it does so in such a smooth, morphing transitional manner that it never feels busy, or messy. The flow feels quite organic. That is not an easy feat, when you have this much going on, but it absolutely makes for an interesting listen that is far from predictable or formulaic. I think all of that also highlights the fact that they are a technical band, but pull back just enough on the techno end of things, as to not over do it. This band definitely brings to mind some New York and Floridian bands like Cannibal Corpse and Suffocation, perhaps also a little more technical minded versions of Obituary, Monstrosity and Malevolent Creation creep into my mind as well. I might even throw in a dash of Cryptopsy and Deeds Of Flesh for shits and giggles. All three men put in strong performances on their individual instruments, but another highlight is the beastly performance on the mic by vocalist Josh DeMuth, his growls are deep and powerful, adding the perfect accompaniment to this excellent fourth album by this band. Mutilated By Zombies is a real force to reckoned with in the US death metal scene.   - Dale

https://mutilatedbyzombies.bandcamp.com/    https://shop.redefiningdarkness.com/       

 

 

NECRONY

"Corrupted Crescendos” 5 LP Boxset

(Helter Skelter Productions / Regain Records)

 

I have to admit I remember this Swedish bands name going around the UG scene way back in the early days, through flyers and fanzines. But I do not think I have ever heard their music, if I did it was back in the early to mid ‘90s during my tape trading days, I do not remember for sure. This release is a massive undertaking, an amazing undertaking and one hell of a tribute by Helter Skelter (and their parent label) for this great old band to document their legacy. As you have likely guessed by now, this voluminous vinyl set documents Necrony’s entire existence, which covers from their 1991 demo and 7 inch EP, to their one and only full-length album, as well as their promo tape in 1994. The only thing that you may say is missing is a final EP by the band, also in 1994, but was a release entirely made up of cover songs so not sure I would count that. But I will leave that up to your judgement I suppose. The demo tape kicks things off and shows as you might expect a bit of a thin and slightly amateurish performance, but the music is great and you can see where things are headed, and the direction is interesting. Just imagine if you will, the first couple Carcass albums mixed with the plodding, deliciously necro doom death atmosphere of Autopsy’s legendary “Mental Funeral” album with a dusting of Impetigo spice to give it all an even sicker flavour. All of that comes with a Sunlight tinged production sound, it is not at all original despite time period, but nonetheless the result is still pretty glorious, if you ask me. As you might expect as time goes onward, the band got tighter, their song construction more nuanced, and a massive chunk of superb death metal is the result. I should mention the vocals which are great, they remind me like a mixing of the vocals of Bolt Thrower, Grave, Carcass, Impetigo and Autopsy all thrown in a bubbling, roiling melting pot. Classic vocals that became a classic for a reason, which is because they are the gold standard. If that all sounds good to you, then I recommend you give this cool release a try. It goes without saying if you are already a Necrony diehard, and love vinyl, you simply need to add this to your collection.  - Dale

https://www.helterskelterproductions.se/    https://regainrecords.bandcamp.com/        

 

 

NIFLUNGAR / VOHA

"Zavjera Nocnih Zvjeri" Split CD

(Masters Of Kaos Productions)

 

Croatia's Voha is a solo black metal act that starts off this split album with four tracks. The music is presented with a very well crafted and composed mid paced style of music. Each of the songs on here feature some strong guitar and drum passages. The vocals from Grof are grim and gruff screams backed with some some growls throughout their songs. Bringing up the other side of this split is Nilflungar, another solo project band from Koschei Bessmertny (he is also the bassist of the babd Pannox), who hails from Serbia. Niflungar plays a nice mix of old school black metal with some strong atmospheric elements added to round out the music. Musically, the four songs are fast paced mainly that mixes in some mid paced passages, and are played with skill and talent. The vocals are raw, coarse black metal screams. Both of the bands presented here on this strong split play a strong style, which I think could be enjoyed by all those who value raw, old school black metal.   - Patrick

https://www.facebook.com/niflungarblackmetal/   https://mastersofkaos.bandcamp.com/   

 

 

NOCTURNAL SORCERY

“Captive In the Breath Of Life” CD

(KVLT Records)

 

This may be the first time I have reviewed something by Kvlt Records, which is the record label of Sami from Thy Serpent (whose releases I have reviewed going back to the middle to late ‘90s). I believe this is the Finnish Nocturnal Sorcery’s second album on Kvlt, and their second album overall. The band’s first release came just over a decade ago, with the demo tape “Satanas Angels Victory Call”, followed that up with a split tape and second demo, before eventually signing with their current label. The band also features members of Daemonlust, Nefarious Rites, Vas Satanas, as well as two ex-Sadokist members. Nocturnal plays some freezing cold yet still hotly aggressive and hateful black metal in the second wave 1990’s tradition. Despite how violent and harsh the overall sound is, there is an enjoyable dichotomy of an undercurrent of melody amongst that icy hostility. A song like “Damned By The Laws Of The Stars” even features some gruff and barbaric bombast in some of the song construction and a vocal performance to match. “Joyless Dance In The Shadow” is sort of an atmospheric, interlude type of track with this strange shrilled, almost futuristic sound effect throughout, but is punctuated with strange disembodied yells, and distant wolf type howls and shit. I am normally not a huge fan of that, especially in the middle of an album, but this time it is surprisingly effective and chilling. If you are like me, a diehard ‘90s second wave black metal fanatic, you will revel in this. As Nocturnal Sorcery really bring THAT sound and style to life, or cold death and even put some interesting different touches to it.   - Dale

https://www.youtube.com/@nocturnalsorcery3    https://kvlt.fi/