Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Bulletsize - The Apokalypse

BULLETSIZE - The Apokalypse (Self released CD 2011)
This is the previous to “Numb” (which I was listening to / reviewing yesterday) album of the Swedish thrash / death metallers Bulletsize and I can say that there is one significant difference between both albums. And that is a fact that while “Numb” was very well produced album, sounding just totally spotless, speaking of the modern production values, then “The Apokalypse” is in this matter much rawer and so it is more underground and messy sounding album. And with such dirty and rough sound, the whole music also seems to be more aggressive, more furious and uglier. But style wise it is still pretty much the same kind of stuff, so relatively melodic thrash / death metal, in almost typical Swedish vein, similar to… well, some quite popular bands, let’s say hehe!
I must say that I liked “Numb” a lot, but “The Apokalypse” sounds also not bad at all. Its harshness works well here and definitely the songwriting is great. Again there are some hooks, balancing between the Arch Enemy catchiness and At the Gates, it also strongly reminds me the recent works of Evocation (especially vocal wise). One can feel impressed with the guitar work, also with these memorable riffs, which Bulletsize came up with. I definitely like such songs as “The Apokalypse” (total At the Gates worship hehe! But the riffs are killer and vicious, plus there’s that melody in the middle… great!), “Out of Silence” (vicious and aggressive as fuck!), “Cassandra” (with its more melodic riffing) and “From Ashes”, which has just brilliant finishing part, with some keyboards, acoustics etc and which sounds fantastically dark and eerie. I guess there is only one moment on the whole album, which I am not so enthusiastic about and it is the song titled “Alone in the Dark”. The riffing in it gets dangerously close to such Dark Tranquillity, what is not really a problem, but the chorus has been sang with the help of the female vocalist Sol Skugga, what sounds… well, maybe not awful, but I just don’t like it too much… It’s too sweet, too soft sounding, it bangs too much to the doors of commercial metal and is not in my taste. But all in all I guess I can say that Bulletsize did not bad here; the album is good, so fans of this sort of music should definitely check it out! Mind though that I think that “Numb” is even better!
Standout tracks: “The Apokalypse”, “Out of Silence”, “From Ashes”
Final rate: 68/100

Bulletsize - Numb

BULLETSIZE - Numb (CD 2013 Sliptrick Records)
I have just received a couple of CDs from the band, which I didn’t know at all before… they’re from the Swedish winter sports centre, Östersund and are called Bulletsize. Musically they offer kind of thrash / death metal, in this more modern, not obscurely old school way, but I must say that I have really enjoyed their recent album titled “Numb”. Even if I hardly ever listen to such music, I must say that Bulletsize was able to force the headbanging and simply crushed with some great riffs and songs.
Style wise I guess I can compare the music from “Numb” to such popular bands as Arch Enemy, Hypocrisy, Evocation, Dimension Zero, The Crown… This is highly energetic, powerful, aggressive, groovy, as well as quite melodic thrash / death, with great, kick ass production. Quality wise I can honestly say that Bulletsize is just as good as all those bands I mentioned above, they do not lack anything and it certainly is stuff, which big metal labels would and should release (somehow though “Numb” was released by small Sliptrick Records). Their music has some truly great riffs, it is very well played and I cannot imagine that any fan of the bands from above would dislike “Numb”. All songs are catchy, but aggressive, there are many hooks, many powerful moments and while the vocals are mainly harsh and screamy, there are also few parts sang with clean voice (“Titans”). My favourite song is definitely the title track, which has a great, memorable chorus part and generally reminds me Hypocrisy’s more melodic, epic songs. I also like the opener “Swallow the Pain” for its great thrashing riffing and great heaviness and “Pay the Price”, but really I can say that all songs are very good and damn solid. With 35 minutes on the clock, the album doesn’t even get close to boredom, its timing is perfect I suppose, so I can only recommend it to all metal maniacs. It is nothing original and innovative, but fans should not care, as long as the music is good. And “Numb” is damn good!
Standout tracks: “Numb”, “Titans”, “Swallow the Pain”
Final rate: 70/100

Friday, 21 March 2014

Entombed - Left Hand Path

ENTOMBED - Left Hand Path (EARACHE - LP 1991)
In many interviews you can hear the question “what are you favourite albums ever?!”. And usually I agree with the answer that technically it is damn hard or even almost impossible to name just five or ten favourite and very best LPs, simply because there are many, many more. But I think I can say that there are several titles, which are like a 100% sure candidates to be on this “best ever” list… Mainly they are the albums, which I have known for many, many years, probably since the days of early 90’s, when I started to listen to this noise. So, speaking only about death metal I would certainly mention such “Altars of Madness”, “Deicide”, “Like an Ever Flowing Stream”, “Testimony of the Ancients”, “False”, “Into the Grave”, “The Nocturnal Silence”… and this one; Entombed’s finest piece and their debut record “Left Hand Path”. Yeah, this certainly is one of the best CLASSIC albums, which I’ve been worshipping for over 20 years now and will do so until I die. No matter how much everything around me is changing; the life, world and even the metal music… albums like “Left Hand Path” remain brilliant and perfect.
I’m not going to write about the importance of Nihilist’s demos and later also of the Entombed’s debut album on the creation of the scene, the sound – or even the whole movement, which was the Swedish death metal. There were so many publications, which described everything perfectly, that there is simply no point. Everyone should know by now what happened back then in Stockholm and what “Left Hand Path” really is standing for. I guess that instead I should rather write how important is this album for me… But again, would I write anything new? No, this LP has marked a sign on thousands of maniacs and it still does, I guess, seeing how many new bands and new fans are praising Entombed from this period of their career. I was only 11 years old, when I got a pirate cassette of “Left Hand Path (released by Polish pirate label Baron – good old days hehe)… And I guess that in the beginning I didn’t even like it so much, because it wasn’t as brutal and fast as Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide or Sinister. But obviously later, with years passing by, I started to like it more and more and nowadays I see this LP as simply amazing, one of the best death metal materials ever released. No doubt about that!
When I listen to “Left Hand Path” nowadays it feels like listening to “the best of…” kind of thing, as basically almost every song is a killer and immortal classic. It’s the same with all these albums, which I have mentioned above, they all are complete and contain only killer stuff… “Left Hand Path” is no different; every song is so memorable, so fantastic… And obviously Entombed has never even got close to repeat and write such excellent material again; even their second LP “Clandestine” – which obviously is also very good – isn’t as great as the debut. Why is that? I don’t know why the debut albums of so many bands are their best ever. Was it the passion and enthusiasm of the young band or they simply had more time to prepare killer material, which was often selected from various demo recordings? “Left Hand Path” for that matter contains some songs from the Nihilist era and obviously also from Entombed’s only demo “But Life Goes On”. No surprise then that there are so many brilliant and instantly recognisable classics. Anyway, the truth is that the whole “Left Hand Path” with all its ten songs is perfection. A perfection in every aspect. Starting with the artwork… Damn, look at their killer logo and that bloody excellent painting done by Dan Seagrave… Not only the music turned out to be the most influential and immortal ever, but even the artwork for the album is like that! Seagrave did many excellent paintings for death metal bands, but this one is in my top three favourites, if not even his best one ever. Plus that logo… Entombed’s photo with that cross in the background? OK., maybe Dismember had more blood on their photo session for the debut LP, but this one is also great. The production… Damn, this is the band, which created the whole fuckin Swedish sound! Thanks to them we had a chance to hear this fat, crunchy, powerful and so characteristic guitar tone, very low tuned… rough, but clean hehe! Even the vocals of L.G.Petrov are kind of unique and different to the typical death grunts.
“Left Hand Path” is filled with brilliant songs, with absolutely no fillers to be found anywhere. The opening song is their best EVER, with some amazing guitar riffs, great eerie, horror atmosphere and that finishing motif, where Entombed used that awesome melody from “Phantasm” horror movie… It sounds… well, I dare to say it is one of the best things, which I have heard in my life. But then we have more monsters: “Drowned”, “Revel in Flesh”, “Supposed to Rot”, “But Life Goes On”, “Morbid Devourment”, “When Life Has Ceased” – isn’t that a dream tracklist? They all have something significant, something memorable, some hooks / riffs, vocal parts… whatever, what makes you remember and love them. More so, if you have a CD version then you get two killer bonus tracks, also composed in the good old Nihilist days. Yes, definitely this album is brilliant. It sounds damn vicious, it is dark and aggressive, often fast, but with lots of diversity and it has this classic D-beat, which originates from bands such as Amebix, Discharge, etc... and Autopsy! Yes; this is how the Swedish death metal was born; after several demos “Left Hand Path” came and nothing was the same anymore. I cannot believe it’s been so many years since this LP was released and that it still sounds so damn fresh, so damn awesome and is still so influential, now for new generation of death metal bands. This is what you call a “cult / classic record”! No collection is complete without “Left Hand Path” in it, it is a fact.
Rest in festering slime!
Standout tracks: “Left Hand Path”, “Drowned”, “Revel in Flesh”, “Supposed to Rot”, “But Life Goes On”, “Morbid Devourment”, “When Life Has Ceased”
Final rate: 100/100

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Satyricon - My Skin is Cold

SATYRICON - My Skin is Cold (INDIE - EP 2008)
I must say that I am quite sceptical towards all these MLPs, which bands such as Behemoth and Satyricon release. They can be a nice collector's item, but let's be honest - their musical value is often just poor. Satyricon has three MLPs released in their career - "Megiddo", "Intermezzo" and "My Skin is Cold" and I can say that each, along with some truly great content, includes also some incredibly poor fillers, which are just completely uninteresting and useless. I guess that the worse example would be that awful and shitty remix of "Dawn of the New Age" included on the MLP "Megiddo". But here I have "My Skin is Cold" EP and I think I can risk saying that it is the best of all EPs, which Satyricon has released. First off, it comes in great packaging; in 7" vinyl gatefold cover and includes two songs on 7" vinyl and all five on CD. That is already something very cool!
As for the content, I must say that I like all songs from "My Skin is Cold" and I am sure that this EP will be a great addition to the collections of many maniacs. Personally though I can find hardly anything here, what would be new for me - what doesn't change the fact that these songs are awesome! First, we have the title song, which supposedly is a different mix to the album version. Whatever... you can probably hardly hear any difference anyway. All in all, it certainly is one of the best songs from "The Age of Nero" LP. Then there are two songs, which appeared as bonus on the vinyl version of "Volcano". And since I have the original "Volcano" LP, then they were known to me already. I bet though that all Satyricon fans, who don't have the LP will listen to these two songs with a great pleasure, as they are killer. Yes, both are truly awesome and I wonder why such good songs ended up just as a bonus on vinyl, because they deserve something better. "Live Through Me" is a vicious, quite rough Satyricon, classic tune for their "Volcano" era and damn, it is just brilliant (it also reminds me some Darkthrone from such LP as "Ravishing Grimness"!!!). "Existential Fear-Questions" is more epic, I love these Hammond keyboards in it; what an outstanding and creepy atmosphere the band created in it; and more so, it sounds like truly old school prog doom metal in places hehe. Finally the EP offers two live songs - first there's "Repined Bastard Nation", which is fine, but it is "Mother North" live version something, what sounds for me the best here. Ah, this is such a classic song, it never gets boring and this live version sounds incredibly fresh and great, with trumpets highlighting the best melodies and epic parts of the song.
So, "My Skin Is Cold" has five songs, of which three I know so well and two are just live recordings, but all in all, I can say that this is a very cool EP and a great offer, especially to all fans, who don't have the "Volcano" vinyl. They'll find here two new songs! I am less enthusiastic, as this is not new material for me, anyway it is always a great pleasure to listen to these songs. And all in all, I can say that this is the best of the three EPs, which Satyricon has released. And I love the front artwork; it is just brilliant!
Final rate: 70/100

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Odraza - Esperalem tkane

ODRAZA - Esperalem tkane (ARACHNOPHOBIA - CD 2014)
Attention people! Achtung comrades! Uwaga kurwy! This album has not been released yet, but I can already say that most likely I am just listening to one of the best newcoming bands of 2014! Yes! And certainly this is going to be also one of the best releases of this year, at least according to me! And because I don’t care about others’ opinions, then this is a fact that no one should deny, because… I don’t give a shit hehe! Here is a band called Odraza who have their debut album “Esperalem tkane” released by Arachnophobia. Who stands behind Odraza? Well, two maniacs are on the board – Priest, who plays drums for few other awesome bands, such as Massemord and Voidhanger. And Stawrogin – who’s playing the bass and guitars and is also responsible for the vocals and who is also a member of Massemord. This duo has really created a truly impressive and insanely brilliant material; an album, which I think is just spotless.
OK., the front artwork may not be the most attractive of all, which I have seen lately, but certainly it fits the band’s name perfectly. Odraza means loath, abhorrence in Polish! And this albums is as filthy, disgusting and vulgar as fuck (especially in the lyrics). I have read somewhere that “Esperalem tkane” is very Polish album, that it is soaking with Polish feeling and Polish stench and I couldn’t agree more… There is something unique about this band, about their music, their lyrics and maybe the foreign listeners will have some difficulties with understanding all this, especially when the lyrics are in Polish, so it will be ever more difficult for them to capture everything, but in that case they can at least enjoy the music… And the music of Odraza is – in my opinion – just perfectly composed, arranged and performed. For instance the performance of Priest is just brilliant. This man plays drums like crazy, his blasts are so damn perfect and intense that I am impressed fully. Stawrogin’s vocals are another thing, which I must mention, as this guy did just excellent job. I guess many will compare his vocals and the lyrics to Furia, Morowe , FDS and all the other stuff, where you can hear Nihil and Namtar involved. Well, let’s be fair; there are many similarities, but generally I think that Stawrogin is slightly different, maybe more possessed, vicious and furious in his performance. Finally, the production of “Esperalem tkane” is just spotless! I love how they have done everything here; the guitar tone, drums’ sound, which is very natural and not so damn unnatural, plastic and trigggered…
The best thing about “Esperalem tkane” is that every song – I mean it, every song! – brings something different and spectacular, being very unique. And more so, I can say that each part of this album sounds extremely good, so I just cannot stop listening to Odraza. The variety of styles, which you can hear here is surprising, but don’t be worry – everything is done in black metal way, if I can say so. “Esperalem tkane” has a black metal sound and feeling, but it sounds like some schizophrenics have played it! Why? What else can I say, if one motif brings a total annihilation with brilliantly performed, utterly fast riffing and drumming, only to be followed by almost kind of bluesy or rock passages? There are many moments of melancholy here, where the guitars play some cleaner tones with melodic and peaceful parts and which will bring you the resemblance to the post rock / post metal styles… Obviously some of these fragments, especially with these unique vocals of Stawrogin will have to remind you such Furia, FDS or Morowe, but it is inevitable. All in all, they do sound fantastic, especially if are followed by more classic blackened riff. Priest’s blasts sound totally insane and guy is a real maniac, I must say. I love his playing (not just when he plays blasts, but on the whole album! Amazing performance!) and definitely these fast parts are some of the strongest points of “Esperalem tkane”. Arrghhh, just listen to “Gorycz”; what a ferocious and killer stuff! This is a total annihilation, in my opinion! Obviously Odraza doesn’t want everything to be straight and simple, so even in this song they have some moments, which sound… hmm, let’s say weird hehe! And did I mention “Wielki Mizogin”, which has almost kind of punk dirt and aggression and where even the vocals sound slightly different (and the lyrics… damn, they are controversial!)? Yeah, what a contrast! Sometimes it feels like a day and night or really like music, which was composed by some lunatics (give a listen to the title song, which is the sickest of all and see what I mean!).
And this is what I meant about the diversity of “Esperalem tkane”. Odraza composed and recorded a spectacular album, filled with so many different emotions, so many feelings and in the end I can say that they have found their own way of expression and add something unique into the overall sound and style of this black metal extravaganza. Such bands as Furia, Morowe, FDS and now Odraza are the best thing, which happened to the Polish black metal scene ever! And also to the black metal scene worldwide, even if I am afraid that these bands will never be hugely popular abroad… because they are just too Polish. Although I do hope I am wrong and people will value them as much as they deserve. Among my favourite songs I can mention “Gorycz”, “Wielki Mizogin”, “Niech się dzieje” and finally the brilliant “Tam, gdzie nas nie spotkamy”, which has a strongest accent putted on the long instrumental passages and it is also a reason, why it sounds the most like a post (black) metal track. Yeah, total avantgarde. But I enjoy it. For me it is an album, which will surely end up on the list of the best stuff released in 2014 and certainly it also is one of the strongest debuts. Very, very recommended!
Standout tracks: as mentioned in the review!
Final rate: 93/100

Friday, 14 March 2014

Domains - Sinister Ceremonies

DOMAINS - Sinister Ceremonies (THE SERPENT FLAME - CD 2014)
Domains are yet another new band, which I was lucky to be introduced to, recently. These Spanish death metallers are completely unknown, having only just one demo released before this first CD “Sinister Ceremonies”. Anyway, I can sincerely recommend you this album, as truly it is an interesting and spectacular piece of metal of death.
The first thing, which I have noticed while listening to “Sinister Ceremonies” is the aura, which surrounds the music of Domains. I mean, this is not kind of death metal band, which would concentrate on utter and sheer brutality, aggression, relentless, unstoppable blasts and all these extremes. “Sinister Ceremonies” is focusing on creating the specific, dark, obscure, kind of mystic and eerie atmosphere; of something almost ceremonious... Style wise I think that Domains gaze and take influences from the old styled death metal scene, from bands such as Sadistic Intent, The Chasm, the old gods from Demigod, Adramelech, Immolation, Asphyx and even a bit of the ancient Morbid Angel. But there are also some hints of the occult black metal present, when speaking of the whole atmosphere of the music and the feeling it creates in the listener. Generally the riffing on this album is very infectious, it hits hard and definitely is also quite memorable, what is always great, especially when we’re dealing with such dark and sinister sounds. The vocals are more like ghastly invocations, rather than the typical brutal growling, what again fits the music and its mood perfectly… And finally the songs have always something great to offer and Domains is varying their music in good way, for example by using all these various tempos, from fast to slow, but mainly with mid paced pace…
Honestly, “Sinister Ceremonies” is not an album, which will deliver some instant hits and will be suitable for maniacal headbanging and other madness. I feel like this music is more suitable for careful listen; when you set up a proper surrounding, you play this CD and just let the atmosphere of this music devour you. This way you can truly feel its force, its essence. All songs on “Sinister Ceremonies” are pretty even; none of them is like an instant hit, which would be a trademark for the whole record… All are just equally good and even if that small sense of monotony can be present here and there, it doesn’t ruin the album. I usually hate, when I am not able to point out several best songs from the album… And if I was truly stubborn, then I would probably pick up one or three, but generally as I said already – the album is so equal and material so balanced that it is pointless. Take it as a whole and enjoy the music. Definitely though I can say that Domains is yet another great discovery of mine and I recommend you their “Sinister Ceremonies”, especially if you look for dark, eerie death metal sounds. Join the ceremony then!
Final rate: 75/100

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Absu - The Sun of Tiphareth

ABSU - The Sun of Tiphareth (AGONIA Records - picLP 2004)
Damn, last week I was playing Absu's second full-length album "The Sun of Tiphareth" and I realized that... most likely I haven't been listening to this record for more than ten years! Time flies so quickly, you mainly listen to tones of new music, which comes in… You also frequently listen to some classic LPs, but there're always some, which you somehow forget about. And this is what happened with "The Sun of Tiphareth"! I used to have a cassette with this album, then later in the mid 00's I bought the picture LP released by Agonia Records, but somehow this album stayed somewhere in the shadow... and yes, I haven't listened it for so many years. Luckily, I finally took my virgin copy of vinyl and decided to play it... and damn, it feels so good to listen to this album again. It's been so long that I feel like I am discovering some parts of this album again! There are some moments I still remember very well, while some other feel kind of fresh, what is great. Anyway, one thing is certain - the album still sounds as great as I remembered and even if I prefer the debut LP over this one, “The Sun…” still belongs to my three favourite Absu records ever!
I guess that if I was about to compare "The Sun of Tiphareth" to "Barathrum" then one thing, which I like more about the debut album is that it had more evil atmosphere and that the songs on the first LP were all just utterly superb, with incredibly memorable moments, totally awesome vocals, keyboards and just everything about "Barathrum" sounded perfect. And the atmospheric part of it was just incredible. Saying that I don't mean that "The Sun of Tiphareth" is not good. It is also totally amazing, truly classic black metal album, with some brilliant songs and many exceptional ideas and performances. But I just liked the songs from the debut more.
Anyway, "The Sun of Tiphareth" kicks off with one killer song titled "Apzu". Oh, this eleven minutes long anthem is the best piece from the whole album and it is just a pure pleasure to listen to it. It has just awesome riffs, many memorable parts, a lot of diversity - from the very aggressive moments to more atmospherics parts, including some female vocals... The song - just like the whole album, really - has a strong mystical, occult and dark atmosphere, and the greatest thing about Absu is how well they have managed to put their intriguing concept and atmosphere into original and exceptional music. "Barathrum" was a great example for that and now "The Sun of Tiphareth" is a rightful continuation and again we can say that none other band has ever recorded something like this. But back to "Apzu", this song is almost like a journey for the listener... a journey into the unknown, where you simply don't know what to expect, but keep on going, as there are so many surprises everywhere that it amazes you. This song has many layers, many different passages; great guitar work, fantastic drumming of Proscriptor and finally the insane vocals (shared between Proscriptor and Shaftiel)! Arrangements in this one song are enough to convince how unique Absu is, how great ideas they have... and these lyrics! When I listen to this song, read the lyrics, it is almost the same feeling as when I do this with King Diamond records.
It couldn't be a better start. But now I can moan a little… Two following songs,  "Feis Mor Tir Na N'og (Across the North Sea to Visnech)" and "Cyntefyn's Fountain" are just not quite as brilliant as "Apzu"... they're good and have also some exceptional moments, but as the whole are just not on the same level of perfection as the opening song. That flawlessness comes back with another masterpiece, "A Quest into the 77th Novel"; that instrumental passage with acoustic guitars, which comes after the spoken female vocal part, is just brilliant! Another fine song, which I must mention is "The Coming of War", which sounds very different, with a strong classic thrash metal influence, which may resemble you even the great German gods of thrash. The song is very vicious, very aggressive and has this classic metal vibe, which the band would explore even more on their third album "The Third Storm of Cythraul". Somehow though it still fits perfectly to the rest of the LP and it doesn't feel out of place at all. It’s because Absu plays everything in own way and style, adding some extra flavour to it… So even if "The Coming of War" doesn't have any atmospheric parts at all and is just damn vicious and merciless thrashing black metal song, it still sound perfectly and has its rightful place on "The Sun of Tiphareth".
Standout tracks: "Apzu", "A Quest into the 77th Novel", "The Coming of War"
Final rate: 85/100

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Paramnesia / Unru - Split

PARAMNESIA / UNRU - Split (Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions - LP 2014)
I understand that many orthodox black metal maniacs feel rather disgust toward this thing called “post black metal”, but personally I think that this is one of the best stuff, which happened to this music. It brought a lot of new ideas, new atmosphere and feeling, new perspectives… a sort of freshness within the old, obscure and rotten box of black metal. OK., I understand that this wave of “post black metal” – whatever the term “post” means… - is also a place, where hundreds of desperate, pitiful and sad kids found their room and that is just hilarious, but I don’t give a shit. Most important is that there are many great bands and fantastic albums, which they have released. French record label Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions is one of such places, where you can find several bands from this style of music. I do admit that not everything what they have released so far was in my musical taste. I didn’t like such Pensées Nocturnes or Way to End, but I certainly have enjoyed Regarde Les Hommes Tomber and The Great Old Ones, which was especially worth attention and fantastic. And now Les Acteurs de l'Ombre Productions introduced me to two new bands and I am satisfied again. They’re called Paramnesia and Unru. One is French, another German and both are totally unknown, and here they share a vinyl release, with one lengthy song from every band.
And you know what? I have listened to both bands several times now and I cannot decide which one I like more… both are just fuckin great. Both can be labeled as post black metal or whatever, but let’s just call it simply black metal, OK.? Both are oriented towards long instrumental passages, careful and patient building of the tension and atmosphere, in both you’ll find some atmospheric passages, some almost kind of hipnotising parts, but they are always mixed with some rough, more aggressive and harsh, fast black metal moments. And obviously in case of both bands, the vocals are entirely black metal howls, except the ending part of Unru song, where there is a long recitation (which again fits perfectly the whole atmosphere of the song). There are similarities to many bands – starting from the classic Burzum through Lunar Aurora or even Dornenreich, Helrunar, Secrets of the Moon, Blod Aus Nord, and so on and on and on… And also to these killer post rock sludge metal bands such as Isis, Pelican, Neurosis, Russian Circles (mainly in Paramnesia though, as Unru is more purely black metal oriented)... This is great music in general and I truly feel amazed by both bands from this split. I love such playing, especially when you listen to it in the freezing coldness of the night, coming back from work to home. That loneliness and darkness around are like perfect surrounding for such sounds. So, I really recommend you getting this split. Personally, as a vinyl collector, I will definitely try to get myself a copy as well.
Final rate: 85/100

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Fleshcrawl - Descend into the Absurd

FLESHCRAWL - Descend into the Absurd (BLACK MARK - CD 1992)
According to some opinions this is the greatest death metal album that came from the German DM scene in the early 90's. Well, I am not sure whether I would pick up "Descend into the Absurd" and give it this title, coz’ the choice is difficult. There are also some other killer bands and classics albums deserving it as much as Fleshcrawl. There’s of corpse Morgoth with all their stuff recorded up to “Cursed” LP, there’s also Torchure and “Beyond the Veil”... And few more bands. Obviously such Morgoth was always way more popular back in the old days than Fleshcrawl, they were one of the leading European death metal bands, while Fleshcrawl was more underground act, so it is quite difficult to compare both bands.... But definitely both belong to my personal favourites from the old days of German death metal scene. And both have recorded some killer albums. Yeah, as much as "Descend into the Absurd" may seem a bit underestimated and almost forgotten (or at least not quite as well known as it should be), it still remains a monument of classic old styled death metal. And if you call yourself a fan of this music, then you must know and have this album in your collection!
Those of you, who know Fleshcrawl from their more recent albums rather than from their early stuff, may be slightly surprised here. You won't hear much of the Swedish death metal influence on "Descend into the Absurd"! Let me remind you that Fleshcrawl on their more recent materials have started to play very much like Dismember and such… meanwhile this debut CD is way more primeval and rough sort of death metal. Sure, there may be some similarities to certain Swedish death metal bands, but if you look for things such as Sunlight Studio like production, or so characteristic atmosphere and melody, then you will be disappointed. This album hasn’t got them. Instead, this is harsh, raw and aggressive ancient way of death metal! It’s classic death metal and it certainly has similarities to some bands from Finland, Sweden, Holland, USA and even a certain later black metal cultists from Norway, whose first album is a classic death metal LP. It doesn't really matter and the most important fact here is that "Descend into the Absurd" sounds just so bloody fantastic. Maybe the production could have been slightly better, but I like it anyway and the songwriting doesn't leave any doubts... killer band, awesome album with eight spotless death metal songs, filled with heavy, brutal riffs and a lot of variety.
I must admit that my favourite parts of "Descend into the Absurd" are when Fleshcrawl plays slow. There are several almost doomy moments, which sound just fantastic and will definitely be a thing for the maniacs of some British, Dutch, Scandinavian and one certain American bands. First we can hear it on "Phrenetic Tendencies", a brilliant opener, which starts in rather fast manner, but it quickly leads towards a killer doomy passage, only to speed up again after a while. Great effect and a slaughter guaranteed. Then "Perpetual Dawn" is even better example, as it starts with excellent doomy part... and yes, it transforms into a merciless death metal ferocity again, but I like it this way, cause it sounds just better when the music is not so one dimensional, but provides a lot of diversity. There are even some traces of Swedish death metal near the end of this long, almost 7 minutes long song, so I can certainly say that "Perpetual Dawn" belongs to my favourite tracks from the whole album. The best is yet to come though, with such songs as "Lost in a Grave" - which is another explosion of brutal, massive riffs and death metal ferocity... It sounds quite like Morgoth's "Isolation" hehe, but it is just brilliant song, one of the finest moments on "Descend into the Absurd", filled with slow, heavy riffing and then speeding up once again. And the same I can say about "Never to Die Again... what a classic song.
But really, I think that there are no weak moments on "Descend into the Absurd" and definitely this is one of my favourite European death metal albums from the good old days. It has everything what I like about the classic death metal - slow, doomy parts, as well as fast, ferocious stuff... there are vicious, harsh growls and great, raw production and finally that atmosphere of horror, of something eerie is present here as well. It's absolutely recommendable album, a true gem in this style of music. I am quite surprised it has never been released on vinyl, also I guess that nowadays even the CD version is quite hard to find. So, I hope it will finally be released on black wax one day, as I would love to have it on vinyl. Meanwhile I totally recommend this album to all old school death metal maniacs out there; if you don't know this classic, then get it now!
Standout tracks: "Perpetual Dawn", "Lost in a Grave", "Never to Die Again", "Festering Flesh"
Final rate: 90/100

Friday, 7 March 2014

Entrails / Graveyard - Split EP

ENTRAILS / GRAVEYARD - Split (WAR ANTHEM Records - 7"EP 2014)
Can there be a better idea than to release a split seven inch single with two among the best old styled death metal bands around nowadays? I am totally into it, especially as I am also a big fan of both these bands… So, here we have Graveyard from Spain and Entrails from Sweden. I trust that I don’t need to introduce you to these two acts; they should be largely known to all death metal maniacs around. All in all, both have released several killer albums and other releases, which you must have in your collection.
Let’s start with the better of two sides of the vinyl. Graveyard offers a new, exclusive song titled “Silent Whispers of the Graveless” and damn, it is just totally killer, perfectly composed and performed Swedish death metal cult. The song begins brilliantly, setting up the horror, eerie mood right from the start, with nice, melodic theme and then shredding and ripping with pure, classic riffing in the vein of Dismember, God Macabre, Goddefied, Gorement, Desultory, etc... I cannot imagine a better way to pay a tribute to these bands and scene, really! But Graveyard has this great ability to compose perfectly sounding songs, they may not be innovative at all, but sound just as great as the old, classic stuff (oh, these riffs!!! This sound!); only it is even more vicious, obscure and utterly fast in some parts. So, awesome, awesome song from Graveyard!!! And as for Entrails… their part of this split is less interesting, as it is just a live recording of “Unleashed Wrath”. The sound quality is very good I must say, so everything is fine, but I would just prefer to hear maybe a new, exclusive song here… Anyway, it is fine and definitely I always enjoy listening to this band. Besides, they have another 7” single released recently (“Berzerk”), which I will try to get as well, so nothing is lost...
Final rate: 90/100

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Coercion - Lifework

COERCION - Lifework (ANIMATE Records - CD 2002)
"Lifework" is the final release from the Swedish death metal band called Coercion. This band doesn't belong to the most known and respected acts from the mighty Sverige, so I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that many of you never even heard any music from them, but I can personally say that I definitely recommend you to listen to it, if you only like classic, old styled take on death metal. "Delete" was a great album, then "Lifework" came and it is even better, sadly it is just miniCD... and more so, it is the last material released by Coercion. I don't actually know why and when did the band split up, or did they plan to record their third album at some point or not... or maybe we'll see them coming back one day, just as we see so many other old bands reforming nowadays. As far as I know it all ended when the original member and songwriter Kenneth Nyman left in 2010. But "Lifework" was released in 2003, so I have no idea what did they do in the meantime. Anyway, let's listen to this MCD and enjoy some killer death metal tunes!
I must say that I like the songs from "Lifework" even more than those from "Delete" album. There's one thing, which I like about them especially and that is the fact that they're less groovy, but more brutal and way more oriented into the fast, massive, intensely crushing death metal. And that is great, because the music seems to be more powerful and furious with it. There's probably just one thing, which I would change and that is the production of "Lifework". Certainly "Delete" sounded better, in my opinion. This MCD sounds fine, but it lacks maybe some "meat" in the sound, especially in the guitars, so I would prefer to hear more brutal production... I have also some doubts about the drums' sound, but well, taking what is here, it also isn't bad, but just could have been better. The songwriting totally rescue this MCD; as I mentioned there are just very, very good songs here! Such "Man vs Logic" is just a fuckin blast, fast and relentless, brutal as hell... "Push and Hold" is also like this, but it slows down a little bit later, but then "Consumed" is again a total ferocious, aggressive death metal attack. There are traces of some Vader, Sinister, a bit of American brutality from bands like Monstrosity and obviously there must be a Swedish death metal trace - resembling of Vomitory, mid era Grave, Seance... All in all, a traditional, classic take on this music and with just 17 minutes of music, it is enough to impress and force into the headbanging waltz.
Standout tracks: "Consumed", "Four Walls"
Final rate: 80/100

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Sleipnir - Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead

SLEIPNIR - Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead (GARDARIKA - CD 2014)
Finally! – I should say, as this was such a long wait for the new Sleipnir album. I think the band announced its coming already two years ago, but it took them a long, long time to have it released… They were searching for the label (but ended up again with Gardarika, who also released their first CD), then the label needed some more time to have it all done... Ah, ages, it felt like ages, but my hunger was growing and growing. You know, I just really loved “Bloodbrothers”, which is such an awesome and unique album, with brilliant epic songs. “Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead” is a rightful continuation of the debut, so I can assure you that all of those who liked “Bloodbrothers” will like it as well... And those of you, who have never heard Sleipnir before, but like very epic, monumental viking metal then get this band’s CDs straight away; it is a must to have for you!
I guess I should start with introducing you the style of Sleipnir a little bit, because it is quite unique and unknown band. Their music will certainly remind you some other bands; I personally hear a lot of similarities to such Forefather, Bathory (obviously), Summoning, Falkenbach, Einherjer… The band itself is also often saying how greatly influenced they are by such Manowar and yes, certainly you can hear it here and there, especially with some choruses, melodies... Such album as “Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead” is definitely not something what can be considered as aggressive, harsh and violent music. It is more focused on creating the atmosphere, on the epicness and monumental, almost kind of bombastic playing, with really great vocals – many of which are multiple chorus vocals, sang with clean, powerful – warrior like - voices. There is also a strong melodic touch to the whole album and finally it contains many orchestral parts as well. The whole effect is just exceptional and very original, I must say. This music is very catchy, very memorable, it contains many fragments, which will just force you to join the warrior choir and sing to the glory of the northern gods or praise the bravery of the ancient warriors. Yeah, I guess that viking metal is explored by many bands nowadays – most of which I don’t like at all, like all those Ensiferum or Turisas kind of bands… I must say that I like Sleipnir 42342 times more.
I do admit though that “Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead” is not an easy album in a way that… well, first of all I must say that my first impression to it was that I prefer “Bloodbrothers” more. And I still do; I just think that the songs on the debut plus their totally brilliant and infectious melodies and vocals were better. I remember such amazing anthems as “Warriors of Thor” and “Once We Were Kings”, which were just spotless and perfect. I loved them. Songs on the new album are also excellent, but maybe not quite as much as those, which I just mentioned. Maybe some fault lies within the production of “Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead”, which is kind of… hmm, weird. Especially, when I listen to it on the headphones it just doesn’t sound totally right, and I do not only mean the drum machine, but maybe also the guitar sound and something what I cannot describe, but what sounds like a distortion in some moments (like the chorus part in “The Blood and the Bones”). Anyway, the truth is also that the more I listen to the album, the more I get used to it. The album may also feel slightly too long, as it contains almost 80 minutes of music (with just six songs!), so it is difficult to: 1. Listen to it carefully from start to finish and 2. To pick up the very best moments from it, as it is just slightly too much of everything and a small feeling of monotony appears once or twice. Saying that, I do admit also that it took me several listens, before I started to appreciate the album fully and really enjoy it. But when I have been listening to the album for the fifth or sixth time, I started to “discover” it, if you know what I mean and really liked it. Yeah, there are some truly fantastic moments on “Oaths Sworn in Blood & Mead”, definitely, and I can say that Sleipnir didn’t disappoint... They didn’t do a better album than their debut CD, but a very, very good material definitely.
The album starts with a long orchestral introduction and “Hail the Heathen Hordes of Midgard (Sworn to the Hammer of Thor)” is certainly a song, which is the best from the whole CD. I like it a lot, the brilliant playing, often reminding me Summoning and Falkenbach, with these very infectious melodies and killer chorus (“Hails the hordes of Midgard, blood on the sword, hail to the horde!”)… I cannot resist it and always listen to it with a great pleasure. Another brilliant piece is titled “Farewell (To a Fallen Brother)” – this 17 minutes long opus has everything what I like about Sleipnir music and damn, it is just excellent, especially its long instrumental, orchestral passages, which so often remind me the heroic movie soundtrack. And yeah, obviously it would be a movie about the Vikings and the Nordic Gods! The same can actually be said about “What the Runes Foretold”, which is also just an amazing song, with truly haunting atmosphere and great, bombastic, epic instrumentation. Meanwhile “Blood on the Sword” belongs to these more aggressive songs of “Oaths Sworn…”, there is even a blasting, fast part, to underline the anger and feeling of the warrior, when going to the battle. And it sounds killer! I guess there’s just one song, which I like less than the others and it is “The Blood and the Bones (Once We Were Kings part 2)”. It is just not as impressive, not as monumental and memorable as the rest of the material and in some way if I mentioned something about monotony, then I meant this one particular song more than everything else.
So, here it is… The oaths have been sworn in blood and mead. This album only confirms how great band Sleipnir is and I am very glad that I had a chance to listen to this CD. It is not a perfect album; as I mentioned I still prefer “Bloodbrothers”, simply because the songs on the debut are better and maybe the production is also slightly better… But I truly admire the work the band did for the second album and in the end, after several listens I can say that I like this material a lot. It is not faultless, but a very good album indeed, so I can only recommend you Sleipnir. Support this band, get their both albums and listen to some of the most exciting Viking theme records released ever since the greatest of all Bathory’s trilogy. For me Sleipnir is just as good as Falkenbach, Summoning and Forefather; so three bands, which I am also a big fan of. So, hail to the Odin!
Standout tracks: “Hail the Heathen Hordes of Midgard (Sworn to the Hammer of Thor)”, “Farewell (To a Fallen Brother)”
Final rate: 70/100