Neglektum – Blasphemer (Review)

NeglektumNeglektum are from Sweden and play Satanic Black Metal. This is their début album.

This is dark and evil Black Metal with an icy sound and Devilish intentions. Their sound is distinctly raw and underground, but it’s a strong one nonetheless. For me the weakest link of a lot of bands who play this style of Black Metal is the drum sound as it usually comes across as really feeble. Pleasingly Neglektum have avoided this and the drums have a clear, forceful presence.

The vocals are mainly high and raspy, with the singer howling out litanies to dark powers and praises to evil in the way that Black Metal bands frequently do. It’s done well and no-one can doubt the obvious enthusiasm and passion that is emitted. He also tries his hand at some cleaner vocals occasionally and these aren’t half bad either.

The songs are quality songs that vary in speed and tempo depending on the mood. When playing faster they have an aggressive presence that is propelled by the drums and harsh screaming. The slower sections have lurking feelings of doom and dismay that seem to be bubbling just beneath the frozen layers of guitars attempting to break through.

The guitars are adept at radiating cold; they are suitably varied and hold attention throughout. The bass is even audible and makes a worthwhile contribution to the cause. Sinister melodies and infernal harmonies infect the guitar playing and really do a lot to add depth to the compositions.

Neglektum have successfully taken the standard Black Metal template and used it to create a monster of an album. Anyone who thinks that Black Metal has grown stale and needs frills, experimentation or dilution with other genres to be relevant or sound good needs to hear Neglektum.

Are you a Black Metal fan? Then get Blasphemer.

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Enfeeble – Encapsulate This Moment (Review)

EnfeebleEnfeeble are from Germany and play Melodic Metal mixed with a more modern Metalcore style and a good helping of Heavy Metal.

The first thing I notice is how varied the vocals are; there are high shrieks, hardcore-style chanting, deeper shouts, grunts and clean singing.

The music is proficiently played, with the guitarist clearly knowing his way around the fretboard. There are lots of slick riffs and Melodic Metalcore standards in place, as well as mixing in more of a Classic Metal approach on some songs, (Flashedever, for example), although in typical Enfeeble fashion they mix this up with some modern heaviosity.

I enjoy how the songs are written. They mainly use elements of modern Metal, Melodic Death Metal and Metalcore, genres which have high-transferability, but you are never quite sure which bit of which of the genres they are going to ransack for the next part of the song. It’s a fun journey of discovery, but once you do know what’s coming next you are thankfully still left with something of substance as the tracks are enjoyable riff-alongs in their own right.

This is essentially a band that values variety a bit more than the average one-genre group, and by-and-large they manage to pull this off with flair and remain coherent.

An enjoyable release that combines a few different permutations of modern Metal to create an enjoyable album that may Encapsulate This Moment but also pays fealty to the past. Have a listen.

Chaos Plague – Chaos Plague (Review)

Chaos PlagueChaos Plague are from Italy and this is their first EP of Progressive Death Metal.

The music is technical as you would imagine, with interesting riffs and arrangements for each of the three songs on this EP.

This is a combination of Death Metal and Progressive Metal which means we get the Death Metal parts with angular riffing, but we also get more relaxed and calmer moments with clean vocals. These clear vocals are competent enough but for me the growling steals the show as these deeper grunts sound like monolithic stone slabs dragging against each other.

Apart from the angular fretwork the drums are exercises in precision and the bass is much more audible than the norm.

The 17 minutes of Metal on this EP hits the spot and hopefully they can develop their style even further for their next release. Very promising indeed.

Disenchanter – On Through Portals (Review)

DisenchanterDisenchanter are a US band who play slow and monolithic Doom.

There may be only three tracks on this EP but at 31 minutes in length it has plenty of substance.

The riffs meander and roll in true Stoner fashion and the psychedelic guitars cruise over a bedrock of bass with the drums bashing alongside.

The first track Journey To Abydos – Moon Maid puts in an impressive 8 minutes or so of work before the vocals even kick in, and when they do it’s like a shot of adrenaline into the system. Prior to this the relentless guitars, seemingly coming on in waves, pushes you into a semi-trance-like hypnotic haze of psychedelic bliss, and when the singer’s powerful vocals slash through your reverie like a hot razor blade, it’s somewhat of a wake up call.

And oh what a good voice she has. Powerful and strong yet still with a feminine and gentle edge. Like a crystal clear diamond sailing through a sea of roughened musical waters.

After this rather impressive first track the remaining songs Invoke and Into Darkness do not disappoint either.

Invoke has a more sedated start like a light breeze but quickly building up into a fully-fledged storm before spending itself early. After this it starts to build momentum once more, only gradually this time. The song is an exercise is build and release, build and release, before peaking at the end. Sexy stuff.

Into Darkness is a lumbering Doom colossus with the singer’s flawless vocals soaring over the top of gargantuan riffs.

This should be eagerly snapped up by all Doom connoisseurs everywhere. A big thumbs up!

Human Cull – Stillborn Nation (Review)

Human CullComing from the UK, Human Cull play Grindcore and Stillborn Nation is 23 tracks in 25 minutes, which should tell you something, (especially as 5 minutes of the playing time is taken up with final track Echoing Silence).

This is ultra-brutal Grind with short songs and maximum aggression. The vast majority of the tracks are on, around or under the 1:00 mark so the entire album is essentially short episodes of shocking violence and mayhem.

But is it any good? Why, yes! Primitive riffs that don’t last for long tear out over rigorous drums and stringy bass. The band’s sound is rough and ready and perfect for the delivery. Each song wants to rip your face off and stomp on your skull.

For such short songs they do mix in a bit of variety in the sense that it’s not full on blasting all the time; a hardcore influence can be felt on occasion, as well as a debt to the more restrained and inventive, (relatively speaking), approach taken by Nasum. The tracks may be short but the songwriting doesn’t suffer due to this.

The vocals are impressively gruff and deep, accentuated with much higher screams here and there. The growling works really well for the band, with the singer having the same kind of characterful voice and delivery as the singer of The Red Chord which elevates the vocals above those of most bands of this ilk.

Top quality Grindcore. Get it while it’s hot!

Insain – Enlightening the Unknown (Review)

InsainFrench band Insain play Brutal Death Metal.

Sadly they are no longer with us, but even with only a small number of releases they have left a powerful legacy and an enduring mark on the face of French Death Metal.

Their first album Spiritual Rebirth was a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying listen in the way that only the best Death Metal can be. Now with this final EP we’ll never know the heights they might have ascended to, but we are left with a new release that meets and even exceeds the standards set with their début.

The sound is huge and immense, like heightened gravity crushing down on you. The songs blast and bruise with the best of them, making full use of the sonic clarity to batter and beat you into submission.

The drums sound especially meaty. Double bass sections twist and turn with the guitars while blast beats overpower everything in sight by sheer force of inertia.

The deep grunting vocals are highlighted by the occasional scream and are utterly relentless and unforgiving in their delivery.

Although this is Brutal Death Metal the band are not adverse to injecting a bit of lonesome melody into the mix; a lead here, a solo there. It all adds a splash of colour to the brutality and demonstrates why Insain are so good at what they do. Or were, at least.

At 25 minutes in length there is no chance for it to get old, and every chance for savage aural pleasure. If only there was more where this came from! A must have.

Akrotheism – Behold the Son of Plagues (Review)

AkrotheismThis is the début album by Greek Black Metallers Akrotheism.

For their introductory track Sepsis Ex Nihilo Akrotheism show that they have the standard slithering, creepy guitar tone down to rights, but add to this with all manner of Hellish noises and effects. After this we have hyperblast Black Metal with maniacal vocals that sound straight out of a nightmare.

The singer alternates between ultra-high pitch screeches and deeper Blackened bellowing. The juxtaposition works wonders and the aggression is ramped up to 11.

The music is largely presented at breakneck speeds and is surprisingly atmospheric in places, aided as it is by a healthy dark melodicism and subtler highlights in their arsenal of grim delights.

Taking the most aggressive parts of the razor sharp delivery of the best of the mid-90’s Black Metal elite, Akrotheism combine elements of Emperor, Gehenna and Cradle of Filth to produce Behold the Son of Plagues. Second wave bands such as these have a special place in my heart and Akrotheism have produced an album that works wonders with these base influences.

Black Metal these days seems to mostly consist of the ultra-cold and minimal variety, or highly symphonic, or off exploring pastures new and only use Black Metal as their starting point; bands that combine aggression with atmosphere in a non-symphonic way appear to be quite few and far between, which is another reason that Akrotheism are so damn good.

An exceptional album, especially for a début. Akrotheism play a form of Black Metal that makes me recall past glories with a nostalgic fondness, but that also allows me to look forward to the future with a content heart as I know that the style is in good hands. Top work.

Primalfrost – Prosperous Visions (Review)

PrimalfrostPrimalfrost are from Canada and play Melodic Black Metal with influences from Power Metal.

An extravagant intro heralds in the very textured and multi-layered Metallic sound that the band have. Razor sharp Melodic Black Metal sounds combine with larger-than life orchestration and enough solos to make any Power Metal band blush.

The musicianship in general is flawless, whether it’s the opulent leads, the spiky riffs, the solid drums or the symphonic keyboards.

The vocals for the most part are high pitched rasps straight out of the Black Metal handbook. These are occasionally offset by deeper grunts and heroic cleans that add further flavour to an already tasty meal.

The songs are highly accomplished and there are plenty of ideas at hand to stop things becoming dull. The songs each offer something slightly different, but all built around the central core of the band. We even get an epic 14:00 track that serves as the album’s centrepiece and is an expertly executed slab of Metal.

Prosperous Visions is 55 minutes of prime-time Melodic Black Metal. If you want the epic, fantastical grandeur of Power Metal with the rougher, more aggressive delivery of Black Metal then this is for you. An ambitious album and well worth adding to your collection. May they prosper for many years to come.

Get it here: http://primalfrost1.bandcamp.com/releases

Craving – At Dawn (Review)

CravingCraving are from Germany and play lengthy Death Metal with Folk and Black Metal influences.

This is their second album and Craving are really coming into their own. Combining brutality, melody and Folk harmonies the band have produced 66 minutes of music that transport the listener back in time and away from the hum drum pace of normal life.

There is a medieval vibe permeating the songs, although this is juxtaposed against the heavier more brutal Death Metal parts. Sort of like a more aggressive Amon Amarth mixed with Korpiklaani or Finntroll.

Each of the long songs is a combination of the aforementioned styles, and across the album we get a bit of everything; Melodic Death Metal, Folk Metal, some Black Metal riffs…it creates an enticing package and manages to stay interesting for the entire running length.

The songs are memorable and the band effortlessly play both brutal and melodic parts with abandon. The ease in which they can transition from heavy, blasting sections into melodic, atmospheric moods is a pleasure to behold.

The vocals are mainly guttural Death Metal vocals, although on occasion Black Metal screams punctuate the blasting. On top of this there are also Folky cleans, some of which are rousing, heroic and quite epic in nature.

This is a Melodic Death Metal album that manages to embrace its Folk side without sacrificing its teeth, and for that reason alone is worthy of being listened to. Add to that the fact that it’s a very enjoyable album that stirs the Metal heart…well we have a keeper here.

Fossils – Flesh Hammer (Review)

FossilsFossils are a two-piece drum/bass combo from Denmark that play instrumental Punk/Metal.

Flesh Hammer is the sound of controlled aggression and groovy tunes.

The bass has such a heavy, electronic quality to it that it’s almost like listening to a heavily distorted arcade game – and I say that purely as a compliment.

This is a short release at only 20 minutes, but this is all that’s needed when the creativity and imagination of the band is channelled so specifically into creating instrumental pieces that pile on the rhythm and heaviness. It just doesn’t have time to get dull.

An interesting and strangely addictive diversion from the well-trodden paths of the standard Metal music walkways; this will make a worthwhile addition to anyone’s collection.