Master – The Witchhunt (Review)

MasterHaving a legacy spanning the better part of 30 years Master need no introduction. It’s heartening to see that after all this time they are still releasing records of a high calibre and keeping up with their peers and the new breed.

Tight playing, good songwriting, top-quality recording – all of the things you would expect from this release – all accounted for.

And of course the vocals; Paul Speckmann’s distinctive growls are accounted for also. A kind of sliding, slithering, snarling sound. Quite distinctive, especially in an age where generic-cookie-monster vocals are ubiquitous. In a way this is Master’s USP and can be make-or-break for some people. Love or loathe; it’s readily identifiable and adds a unique edge to the band that so many others lack.

This is old-school Death Metal played with conviction and skill, with no regard whatsoever for what is going on in the wider Death Metal scene. And why should it? As one of the originals Master can pretty much do what they like. Thankfully, rather than sully their legacy by changing styles, experimenting, or any other number of potentially dangerous things; they have chosen to release another album chock to the brim with blasts, riffs, and honest-to-goodness Pure Death Metal.

Listen to Master – what’s not to like?

Noisem – Agony Defined (Review)

NoisemOld-school Death/Thrash Metal with some distinctly hardcore influences. Not Deathcore, not Metalcore; hardcore. Old-school hardcore. Old-school hardcore mixed with a dirty Thrash/Death. There we are then.

This album is short and to the point. Thrash/hardcore inspired Death Metal riffs lash out at the listener, while the simple-but-effective drums pummel you into submission and the shouted Death Metal vocals roar and gnash angrily. Like a crazed, starved and disfigured attack dog and twice as ugly. This is not music for passers by. This is music for people that live it. For people that want a gritty realism to their songs; a brutality of awareness and apathy to destruction.

A great album for when you want a no-frills approach to aggression, and a stark reminder of all that made you like extreme metal in the first place. It’s not perfect or pretty, but that’s the entire point.

Arfsynd – Hesychia (Review)

ArfsyndHailing from Sweden; Arfsynd play underground Black Metal with plenty of both melody and bite. The overall feeling conjured by this album is one of an evil majesty.

Epic, soaring melodies juxtapose against solid Black Metal drums while a distinctly non-standard Black Metal voice shouts over the top of it. The slight clash of styles, (simplicity of the drums, brutal hoarseness of the vocals, epic melodies and riffs), works better than it might otherwise sound, coming together to create songs of real character that are instantly memorable and enjoyable.

As touched on; the vocals are not the normal Black Metal shrieking that you may expect; rather they are hoarse, ugly, shouted things – someone has been dredged up from the bowels of Hades to provide these vocals and they are making sure that their mark is felt. Extra vocal styles are used to accompany the main ones throughout this release, adding another layer and further interest to the music.

With this album though it’s always the intricate, impressive use of melody that I return to. The guitars and bass are used expertly to provide such a wealth of feeling and depth that the music sounds alive and vital.

This is no run-of-the-mill colder-than-thou generic Black Metal. This is real, living, vibrant and essential. Highly enjoyable.

Lycanthrophy – Lycanthrophy (Review)

LycanthropyGrindcore! Pure, unadulterated, no-frills grindcore.

The guitars have a very punk/hardcore feeling to most of the riffs and this is just a joy as it almost feels like a band such as Madball have gone all grind – an aural beating but one where you ask for more. The drums are a relentless battering when going all-out, but also know when to hold back and provide a just a back-bone to the music and supply the groove for the punky riffs.

The vocals alternate between shouting (essentially) and screams. Basic but performed well; it fits the music perfectly.

There’s no great mystery or secret to this style of music – you either like it or you don’t. Me? I like grindcore. I especially like grind that’s done well. This is grind that hits the spot perfectly. Simple, stripped-down and rabid. 17 minutes, 20 tracks, perfection.

If you like grind you should get this. It really is that straightforward.

Years of Tyrants – Leading the Blind (Review)

Years of TyrantsI believe the appropriate response upon pressing play and hearing the blasting, shredding brutality here is “holy shit”. Their sound is somewhere between technical Death Metal and technical Deathcore. And what a sound it is. Explosive doesn’t do it justice. If you like bands such as Beneath the Massacre and Infant Annihilator then this is for you.

Another French band worshipping at the altar of bruality and being rewarded handsomely by the Gods of Heaviness. One thing this album has in abundance is energy. The kind of energy that makes you want to flail around ripping anything and everything to shreds and then stomping on the remains. Riffs, licks, leads, drums – it all flies past in a blur of bloody fingers and broken drumsticks.

The sheer weight of aggression here is staggering, and thankfully there are strong songwriting skills on display; otherwise this could have been just a mess of riffs and shouting whereas what we actually have is a cohesive, albeit very short release. Too short really. Will we get more? Only time will tell but I for one do hope so.

Pantheon of Blood – Tetrasomia (Review)

Pantheon of BloodScything, razor-sharp Black Metal from Finland. This is their third release and shows much promise for the future.

There are good melodies aplenty on this release, with a sound that is at once on the raw side but not really enough to qualify as “necro” or to obscure the music that is on display here. The vocals are suitably high and screeching, (in a good way), so there are no problems in this department. The instruments are all played competently and the band have a good grasp of the basics of songwriting, which can only develop further in the future.

I enjoyed this release – it is relatively short, but then it is an EP, and should be viewed as a taster for a (hopefully) upcoming full-length. I look forward to hearing what they come up with.

Give them a listen and see what you think.

Acrania – The Beginning Of The End (Review)

AcraniaAcrania are from the UK and play Death Metal that although shares ground with Deathcore, I see it as more in the vein of the bouncy, chuggy, Dying Fetus-style of Death Metal rather than the more generic, break-down infested style that most people seem to associate with Deathcore. Either way this 5 track EP is enjoyable, nicely written, and suitably heavy and brutal that I fail to see what there isn’t to like really. Play it loud and feel the groove.

The sound is well-recorded and sounds suitably huge and heavy for a release such as this. As well as The Blast this album has The Chug all over the shop. This is where things could, in theory, get a bit pedestrian; but I am pleased to say that this is not the case as everything fits together nicely within the structure of the song. They don’t heavily rely on done-to-death chugs/breakdowns and instead keep things a bit more interesting, lively and full of energy. In fact I’d say that there aren’t any real Deathcore-style breakdowns here as such in any case. As mentioned previously; think more Dying Fetus-style Death Metal and you’ll get the idea.

The vocals on this EP are excellent. The range, diversity and quality all deserve praise and certainly add the icing on top of a very brutal cake.

A short release that bodes very well for things to come. If they can come up with a full album of this type of material that allows them to retain the energy and focus that is displayed here then that will be something I look forward to.

Wormlust – The Feral Wisdom (Review)

WormlustThis is eerie, progressive Black Metal. Imagine a more aggressive Blut Aus Nord in some ways; Blut Aus Nord crossed with Mayhem perhaps. A good starting point. In fact I’d like to coin the phrase Ambient Aggressive to describe them. They have plenty of ethereal, ambient-esque feelings and melodies in them, whilst having an underlying aggressive core. First song Sex Augu, Tolf Stjornur is a classic example of this – blasting drums, frenetic bass, with insanity-inducing almost-ambient guitar work/noise on top.

The album cover initially can make you wonder what kind of music is contained within, but when you’re listening it makes sense – spooky, trippy, insane, out-of-the-ordinary. This is a brand of Black Metal that is much more unique and interesting than most. They also do mellow very well. There is not an abundance of it; but in between bouts of discordance and mayhem there are quieter moments, (A Altari Meistarans in particular), and the atmosphere here is suitably unhinged as you may expect, only without the chaos.

The melodies used throughout this album are all high-quality and are designed to slowly send the listener insane, or at the very least to wrench up the tension levels. It’s this combination of brilliance and craziness that, for me, marks this as an exceptional release. That and the fact that the band make it sound so effortless. An album such as this could easily sound like a patchwork of conflicting styles in lesser hands. In the hands of artisans however, we have a soundscape birthed from insanity and directed by demented geniuses who know how to control the chaos for their own ends.

Wormlust are like the wind; capable of going from a gentle breeze to howling terror in the space of a second. As such they are liable to scare the casual listener away. Those who persevere however will be richly rewarded.

Abominant – Onward to Annihilation (Review)

AbominantAbominant play blackened Death Metal – theirs is primarily a Death Metal style that mixes both brutality and melodies but also has enough elements of Black Metal to be considered blackened rather than just pure Death Metal. Genre pigeon-holing notwithstanding; this is a premier release by these USDM veterans.

I was hoping that this album was going to be a good one, but in all honesty I was unprepared for how much I actually liked it. The songs have a certain feeling that allow them to rub shoulders with the best that Death Metal has to offer and not feel out of place. They may rarely be uttered in the same breath as bands such as Cannibal Corpse, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Nile, (etc). as titans of the genre, but then to the trained listener Abominant actually sound very little like those bands. They do, however, stand quite nicely on their own laurels.

This release should satisfy any fan of extreme metal. Strong musicianship? Varied vocals? Songwriting skills? Dynamics? Brutality? Powerful melodies? Hypocrisy cover (Left to Rot)? Unexpected-80’s-speed-metal-song (Hold Your Ground)? All of these and more are the treasures awaiting the unprepared listener!

Along with the recent release by Nephren-Ka this is the strongest Death Metal album I have heard recently. You need this.

Perditor – Divine Riddles (Review)

PerditorPerditor are a Black Metal band from Holland. They play a razor-sharp brand of Black Metal that has a palpable aura of menace about it. Indeed; this is not for the faint-hearted. This is an hour of evil music.

Underneath the grimness though is not just a band going through the motions; this is the real deal and thankfully the music can more than keep up with the passion on display here. The songs are well-written and complex enough to keep interest while still having a scything, brutal, black heart. There are plenty of well-thought out blackened melodies on offer here, and a lot of ideas that elevate this release far above the run-of-the-mill.

It would be criminal to not mention the vocals as well.  While sticking predominantly to the style that one would expect for a Black Metal album; the vocalist is highly accomplished and has a surprising range and versatility that, like the music, is much better than the average.

With this album Perditor acknowledge the past while stamping their own identity on the Black Metal template; twisting it to serve their will rather than being a slave to it. And thus true power and purpose was born.

This is a superior album in every way. If you have a taste for the blackened art then you should seek this release out immediately. There is a depth and longevity to this album that you will not want to miss. Highly recommended.

Favourite track: Servus Diaboli.