Fell Voices – Regnum Saturni (Review)

fell voicesAnother Black Metal tour-de-force from Fell Voices, purveyors of epic-length underground Black Metal.

This album is like a whirlwind; a veritable Black Metal maelstrom of razors and ice. Dark, haunted screams pass by in a blur of pain. The impenetrable walls of sound and fury permit only the most desultory of lifeforms to exist and any hope of release is scoured away by the sandblasting of elemental force.

Dotted around at various points in the proceedings are calmer moments. However, these can hardly be described as pleasant and their main purpose is to build up to the inevitable storm.

Three songs of blackened misery and hate lasting one hour. Not for the weak of heart, this album is calling out to those that would hear. Will you answer the call or will you be found wanting?

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Woslom – Evolustruction (Review)

WoslomThis is thrash Metal played mainly in a more modern style but with a real feel for the old-school nonetheless. Think somewhere between the Teutonic thrashings of Kreator and the more US style of Testament.

This album certainly has some bite, with the guitars alone having plenty of attack before you even factor in the other instruments. Songs are well played and recorded, with juicy Thrash riffs, liquid solos and a vocalist that can compete with the best of them.

The songs are memorable and full of nice hooks and vocal lines. Walking the line between melody and aggression they successfully straddle both worlds delivering an album that any Thrash fan would happily bang their heads and fists too.

These songs have grown on me, as all good music should, and I do not hesitate to recommend this band to you. Thrash will never die; bands like Woslom won’t let it.

Soul Remnants – Black and Blood (Review)

Soul RemnantsSoul Remnants play song-based Death Metal with a nice thrashy edge to it. Predominantly USDM-style, they are not afraid to mix it up with the occasional keyboard highlight, some slightly more Black-Metal-esque passages, variety in vocals, etc. Eight minute epic Dead Black (Heart of Ice) is a perfect example of this. Mixing Death and Thrash is not too uncommon; less common however is integrating the odd Black Metal riff or section into the boiling pot, especially when it works well and seems natural.

Working with the confines of the Death Metal genre this is a surprisingly diverse album. They can, (and do), blast with the best of them of course, but they also do more than just that. Melodic, emotive passages sit comfortably next to brutality and harshness. Some good lead work over a solid structure of riffing and percussion means that they are clearly in touch with their thrash side while comfortably remaining of the Death Metal camp.

And there are some galloping riffs here! It’s hard to fault this album when it comes to the riffs and the feelings they evoke. Whether they are going for the throat or want to convey a sense of crawling malice they hit the spot. Solid songwriting and dynamics elevate this album higher than most.

This is the band’s second album – based on this release I wish them many more in the future.

Black Altar – Suicidal Salvation (Review)

Black AltarPolish Black Metal band Black Altar start things off nicely with a bit of atmospheric piano, and when they’re ready they kick it up a gear and come out blasting.

This is Black Metal with a healthy amount of keyboards and orchestration, but it is used to create a dark atmosphere and accentuate the Metal, rather than swamping it with unnecessary pomp and overdone theatrics. The orchestral interludes work well also; minimalist and dark. In short, they have the mix right.

Whether mid-paced or faster, they have a good sense of rhythm and an ear for a good melody. The mid-paced parts of Pulse ov the Universe for example, are as good as anything Samael have ever done, with the faster parts being a bit more reminiscent of Marduk, or some such. There is even a guitar solo, that rarest of Black Metal things. Possibly my favourite track on this EP, but there is plenty to like here.

A well recorded and played sound complements the release well, and allows the band to sound tight and professional, without sacrificing the feeling of Black Metal darkness and awe that they foster so well.

I look forward to seeing what else this band are capable of. Based on this EP they know their art and I for one admire it.

Ghold – Judas Ghoat (Review)

gholdGhold play some super sludgy Doom with emphasis on the sluuudge. It’s heavy on the bass and nicely percussive.

I enjoy albums like this as generally speaking they are easy to become absorbed into. The bass simply expanding to consume everything else until it is the only thing left. Almost anyway, as Ghold are more than just the bass.

This is quite a distinctive brand of sludge and the vocals in particular mark it as out of the ordinary, almost like a one-man gang vocal. These heavy, deep vocals prowl the deep sludgy seas adding menacing and ritualistic tones to the music. Meanwhile the drums hammer out relentless rhythms and beats that supply the backbone to whatever the bass is doing.

A very primal feeling to this release, like something struggling to be born. A worthy addition to the genre.

Morality Crisis – Boats (Review)

morality crisisLet’s face it – any band that has a song named Enormous Fucking Death Ass Knife are going to be brilliant. It’s inevitable. This also happens to be the first song on this rather excellent release – slow and sludgy and so ridiculously catchy you’ll find it buzzing around your head like a slow-motion chainsaw as you try to get to sleep at night.

Second track Lumberjane is a bit more upbeat, with a bit of a Mastodon vibe going on, only dirtier. Filth-ridden sludge is the main order of the day, but with a side salad of calm consideration and reflection which allows the band to show off the fact that they’re not just all about the bludgeoning and distortion, but can also do other shades of grim. Some nice progressive elements to this song too. And blastbeats.

Naptaker starts off with some guttural vocals winding its way to some nice Mike Patton-esque croaking and hardcore shouting. Overall the vocals on this release are diverse and accomplished, yet layered in so much grime and muck that it’s hard to focus on how good they are when they’re raping your face and stripping your ears raw. Same goes for the music really.

By track four Gary Plays With Fire I’m well and truly in love with this band. Essentially a short, crusty hardcore song with a twist – it hits the spot.

Next song Touched by an Adult cements the level of quality of the band in my mind. I find that the best albums are the ones that have enough presence to catch your attention but enough depth to keep it. Morality Crisis play a sort of highly-inventive sludge/hardcore mix that has a lot going on and more ideas in one song than a lot of bands manage in an album. And they have a wonderfully filthy sound – have I mentioned that yet? They may be from the US but they sound more like they should be from the UK with a sound that would sit perfectly alongside the best of the dirty, filthy, sludgy UK underground Metal scene past and present, (Raging Speedhorn, The Atrocity Exhibit, Extreme Noise Terror, Corrupt Moral Altar, Charger, etc).

Anxiety Rifle, (another great song title), starts off like a Converge song with Death grunts and proceeds to batter everything around it before dropping into such a nice groove that it’s all I can do to stop myself from dancing on the table.

By the time the final song Electric Friends rolls to a close I am a happy camper.

So many bands seem content to sound like their heroes, thus ensuring that bands like Morality Crisis are so needed. They take their heroes, mash them up in a bin and parade them in front of their loved ones before beating and eating them to absorb their essence. To sum up – this is special music that deserves to be discovered by any and every filth-loving sludge fan out there.

Essential.

Switchblade – Heavy Weapons (Review)

switchbladeWell this is a cracking good listen. Israeli traditional Heavy Metal played by 5 guys who were obviously born to be Metal.

Switchblade have been around since 2005 but this is their first album. As they say – good things come to those who wait.

Top quality guitar riffing and guitar heroics place this firmly in the First Class section. Nice leads abound and each and every solo is well thought out; all backed by a very competent rhythm section.

Bands like this live or die by their songwriting and thankfully the band are no slouches in this department. I enjoy every single song on this album without exception, and each one feels like it has its own identity and purpose.

The singer has a voice dripping with Metal that perfectly fits the band with plenty of power and presence. Sometimes a band of this ilk with good songs and a good sound are just let down by the disappointing pipes of their vocalist and I’m happy to say this isn’t the case here.

This is such a great album that it would be tempting to say something like “They don’t make them like this any more” but the fact is they do; you just have to find them! How many excellent bands are overlooked purely due to being an unknown name, or because they’re unsigned or on a small record label, or because geographically they’re not from somewhere people traditionally think of when they think of Metal? These bands deserve your support, none more so than a quality band like Switchblade – you may not have heard of them before but they deserve a place in your collection. True Metal has rarely sounded this professional, or just this damn good.

Mortal Decay – The Blueprint for Blood Spatter (Review)

Mortal DecayMortal Decay are veterans of the USDM scene having been birthed in 1991. This is their 4th album and their first in 8 years. And it’s good. Very good.

Blasting USDM in the classic mould with plenty of brutality, blastbeats and harmonics to satisfy even the most jaded Metal fan. Quite simply this album dares you not to bang that head and just destroys anyone foolish enough to get in the way of this juggernaut.  This is Death Metal for Death Metal fans, pure and unadulterated.

They deal in precise, choppy songs filled with blasting and gore-soaked vocals professionally delivered and wrapped in skin. The stench of the last victim still present as they rip, tear and shred their way through the next one.

If you’re a fan of Death Metal then you can’t go wrong with this.

Final Curse – Way of the Accursed (Review)

Final CurseSometimes all you need is some good old-fashioned Thrash Metal. Final Curse deliver.

A strong, punchy recording means that the guitars crunch, the drums pound and the vocals hit the spot. Their brand of Thrash takes its cue from the Bay Area and has the riffs to prove it.

The vocals are very good – clear but with bite; the singer really enunciates his words and has his own character and so avoids the faceless-frontman-syndrome that plagues some bands.

Final Curse have also realised that speed is not the be-all and end-all of Thrash. They can Thrash out with the best of them when required of course, but mostly their song structures and tempo are more considered; based around the needs of the guitar, rather than having the drums set the pace. There are some lovely leads on this album – these are also considered and well-played.

Overall a very satisfying Thrash Metal album, with a foot in the past and an eye on the future.

Cvinger – Monastery of Fallen (Review)

CvingerSlovenian brutal Black Metal band Cvinger don’t pull any punches with their first EP. With eight tracks in 20 minutes there’s no time to waste.

After a brief acoustic intro we get blasting underground Black Metal in the style of a more furious and rabid Panzer Division Marduk. Breaking up the action there is the odd acoustic passage, some chanting, but mainly we have pure second-wave Black Metal with a firm stranglehold on the exposed neck.

Short songs, high on aggression and filth, fly past in a breakneck manner propelled by hatred and rage. Each song a mini-hymn of evil and a testament to harshness.

Vocals are quite varied – we get the standard Black Metal screams of a couple of varieties, as well as some chanting and dirty-singing and even the odd deeper grunting.

An enjoyable release – hopefully they can build on this for the future and unleash something truly hellish on us next time.