Obsidian Sea – Dreams. Illusions. Obsessions. (Review)

Obsidian SeaThis is the second album by Bulgarian Doom Metal band Obsidian Sea.

70’s-style riffs flow out of the speakers with the ease of a player who was born to the style. The guitars on this release are catchy and even hummable in places. The songwriting in general backs this up and the album has a lot to offer people who enjoy song-based Traditional Metal.

The band have a lovely warm, meaty sound that may hark back to a decades-old style but does so with the benefit of modern technology.

The band flirt with some psychedelic elements but for the most part it’s Classic Heavy/Doom Metal all the way. Think Black Sabbath and the like and you’ll be on the right track.

The vocals rise out of the riffs smothered in reverberation and haunting cadence. They’re ably performed and really suit this genre of music.

Yes, there are a lot of bands playing this type of Metal, but Obsidian Sea have that ineffable something that differentiates them just enough to force you to take notice. I’m can’t fully put my finger on what it is, but I think it’s essentially just how well-delivered everything is here. The songs are just goooood.

If you’re a fan of Traditional Heavy/Doom Metal then Obsidain Sea are one of the more talented bands operating in its murky waters. Give them a listen.

Shields – Guilt (Review)

ShieldsShields are a Metal band from the UK and this is their latest EP.

Shields play heavy Modern Metal with some aspects of Djent, Metalcore and Hardcore influences included.

The vocals are angry shouts for the most part, mixed in with a few slightly higher screams here and there. These are juxtaposed against soaring cleans that announce the more melodic side of the band whenever they appear.

Although this is on the more popular/commercial side of the Metal spectrum the band are clearly into what they’re doing, something which always makes a difference. Also, this is heavy enough to ensure that they won’t be receiving any major-station radio play any time soon.

In general I’m not a huge fan of the Djent style but here it’s only one aspect of their sound. In some ways Shields remind me of the American Trustkill-style of yesteryear, mixed with a more contemporary Djent/Metalcore influence.

The band throw in heavy riff after heavy riff but the melodic influences serve to break things up before they can become one-dimensional. They also seem to be in the starting stages of incorporating more atmospheric influences into their sound; it’s early days yet but these initial forays are encouraging. I can even imagine them incorporating some of the tricks that Fallujah employ into their music and maybe even developing a bit more along those lines, albeit without the Death Metal influence, of course.

It’s easy for a band playing this style to sound stale or generic. Too easy in fact; both Djent and Metalcore are too prone to this. Sheilds manage to avoid the majority of these problems by using a combination of both that tries to take the best from each. Add to this the melodic and atmospheric parts and you actually have a band that can hold attention and have managed to re-ignite some of my passion for this type of Metal.

Well, it seems there’s life in this sub-genre yet. Shields have impressed and it turns out that Guilt is entirely guilt-free.

I think I need to find a mosh pit now.

Third Ion – 13/8bit (Review)

Third IonThis is the début album from Third Ion who are a Progressive Metal band.

Heavy Metal meets Chiptune? Well, mainly Heavy Metal to be honest. When the chiptune parts do appear they shouldn’t really work but amazingly they do, mainly because they don’t overdo it of course.

This is quite a mix of styles in some ways. The Progressive Metal/Rock aspect of their sound is a modern one yet they still carry obvious influences from older Progressive Rock. Some of the guitars have a modern, almost-Djent feel to them whilst others are pure 70’s inspired riffs with added distortion.

As well as this we have the obvious electronic/video-games influences that are not overused and instead just add some individuality to the pot.

There’s also an unexpected Grunge element to their sound. This manifests not only in the music but also in the vocals. There’s a kind of laid back, hazy feel to things that recalls bands of this type and era.

The musicianship on display here is first-rate, as is the recording. Importantly the songs themselves are well-written and the album has a kind of easy-listening vibe despite the frequent higher-energy and more upbeat sections.

This is a really enjoyable Progressive Metal album that’s a little different due to the mix of related styles. Recommended.

Dawn of Azazel – The Tides of Damocles (Review)

Dawn of AzazelDawn of Azazel are from New Zealand and play Death Metal. This is their fourth album.

Dawn of Azazel play Progressive Death Metal with enough brutality to keep people happy.

They have a very satisfying production with the guitars sounding heavily distorted and full of fuzz. Combined with the blasting drums and vocals it’s a good solid sound.

The vocalist has a the kind of shouted growl that’s forceful and savage. His voice tears out of the music with fury.

Their music is a wonderful combination of the Progressive, Modern and Brutal Death Metal subgenres, so much so that there’s a lot on offer on The Tides of Damocles.

A multitude of inventive riffs and interesting ideas are tried and tested throughout these 10 songs. It’s an impressive melting pot that the band create and they forge it into a cohesive attack over the course of just over 48 minutes.

The guitars are a highlight for me as they lead the assault and you never quite know what they’re going to do next. That’s not to imply that they’re a hyper-chaotic Techdeath mess, far from it; it’s just that Dawn of Azazel pour so many different riffing styles into the mix that you might be listening to a Morbid Angel section at one point only to have it change into something Meshuggah-inspired, or maybe a riff Immolation would be proud of.

Ultimately though it all flows together quite naturally and The Tides of Damocles is a very striking record.

Yes, I look forward to listening to this more and more over the years and getting to know it really, really well. This one’s a keeper.

Vasomortus – Instrument Torture of Pyramid (Review)

VasomortusThis is the début album by Indonesian Death Metallers Vasomortus.

Vasomortus play Death Metal that’s raw and brutal. There’s no subtlety, nuance, niceness or any form of nod to anything progressive or forward thinking; this is relentlessly ugly, aggressive Death Metal. Vasomortus’ only concern is a murderous assault and how much damage they can do.

This takes me back to mid-90’s USDM and the album has a production to match. Everything about this band harks back to this time really and the brutality is completely authentic. For fans of Suffocation, Deeds of Flesh, Devourment, etc.

Blasting riffs, chugging heaviness and groovy carnage are the meat and potatoes of the band, so it’s time to tuck in and get your fill.

Eschewing any shades of colour in the form of solos or leads, and stripped of technicality, progressive elements, modern polish, etc. this is Death Metal that is utterly single minded in its intention. What we’re left with is Brutal Death Metal that only cares about brutality and death-dealing, nothing more.

Although this does leave Vasomortus sounding a bit one-dimensional compared to a lot of other Death Metal bands who may have more variety in their attack, it does mean that they are free to focus purely on what they do best – embodying underground brutality.

For times when only pure barbarity will do.

Equaleft – Adapt & Survive (Review)

EqualeftEqualeft are from Portugal and this is their début album. They play Groove Metal.

This is modern Metal with a modern Thrash edge and a love of all things heavy and chuggy. Think Lamb of God, Sepultura, Hatebreed, etc. and you’ll be on the right lines.

Having said that though, Equaleft are definitely at the heavier, less-commercial end of the Groove Metal spectrum. It’s clear that the band’s main focus and passion lies with the heaviness and the Metal, which is only to be encouraged of course.

The vocals are angry and flit between throaty shouts and raspier screams. I like that they’re quite relentlessly aggressive and the vocal assault does well to keep up the intensity throughout.

This is a very riff-oriented release. Now, where most bands of this ilk fall down is by an over reliance on done-to-death Metalcore riffs and too many breakdowns. Pleasingly, Equaleft don’t overplay this aspect of their sound and instead mainly concentrate on beating the listener’s skull in with brutal riffs and heavy guitars that are more 90’s Metal than 00’s Metalcore.

Another couple of areas that set them apart are those of speed and melody; they can put their foot on the accelerator when needed and also inject some melody into the proceedings. Both aspects stop the album from becoming a one-dimensional riff-fest and allow for some increased dynamics. And they also allow the heavier parts to sound even heavier, which is never a bad thing.

This is a very promising début. Groove Metal can be a tricky thing to master and Equaleft are well on their way to high levels of proficiency with this release.


Six Feet Under – Crypt of the Devil (Review)

Six Feet UnderSix Feet Under are a Death Metal band from the US, although it’s highly likely that they need no introduction. This is their eleventh album.

This album is slightly different to previous releases as it’s somewhat of a collaboratively written effort between Six Feet Under main man Chris Barnes and Cannabis Corpse’s bassist/vocalist.

How has this changed things? At first glance not a lot, but on closer inspection there are some subtle alterations to Six Feet Under’s Death ‘n’ Groove style this time around.

Some of the riffs are a little more complicated, (just a little), there’s a little more aggression, a pinch of extra speed and a little more fun. Not fun in the ridiculous, novelty way, but fun in the Autopsy-covered-in-bowels style of macabre fun. You know, graveyard fun.

Also, some of the riffs just have a bit more Metal to them, Death-style almost. Not all, but it’s noticeable in places.

These ten tracks are catchy and laden with enough barbed hooks to stick into anything. The songs continue to batter and bruise their way through the running time with all of the finesse of a wrecking ball, of course. But would we want it any other way? No way.

Ultimately Six Feet Under are the kind of band you either take to or don’t. Of course you can realistically say that about any band, but Six Feet Under certainly do seem to be one of those groups that people either love or hate.

I think that Crypt of the Devil will do very little to convince those who have already decided they don’t like the band. For those of us who are fans though, it’s similar enough to the normal Six Feet Under output to sound reassuringly familiar; however the small but important alterations to their sound due to the collaborative songwriting mean that they come across fresher and hungrier than ever.

After two decades of Death Metal Six Feet Under are still going strong. Crypt of the Devil is yet another solid slab of mid-paced Death Metal that’s meaty enough to satisfy that craving for rotten, putrid flesh that I know you all crave.

Turn the volume up and get ready to bang your head once more.

Demonical – Black Flesh Redemption (Review)

DemonicalDemonical are from Sweden and this is their latest EP. They play Death Metal.

I’ve always got time for a bit of Swedish Death Metal, and this latest EP by Demonical serves as a suitable ambassador of the style for anyone who’s unlucky enough to be unfamiliar with it.

That Swedish chainsaw presence is accounted for, as are the dark melodies and heavy grooves that so endear the style to so many.

Demonical do this proud sub-genre justice and these four songs are exemplars of the style.

The riffs are superb and everything is heavier than Hell. The drums crash like explosions and the vocals are so deeply satisfying it’s a joy to hear.

Each track here is very well-written and really hits the spot. Swedish Death Metal gets by on songs, rather than speed/brutality/extremity/technicality/etc. just for the sake of it, and these songs are tight, precise, very heavy and instantly appealing.

Swedish Death Metal has its detractors of course, and as such not everyone will be as gushing about this as me. The thing is though, even if you have had your fill of the style, I fail to see how this can’t relight the passion you must surely have felt at one point for it. I mean, deep down, everyone likes this kind of stuff really, I know they do. What’s not to like?

But I digress. I’ve not encountered Demonical before, but based on Black Flesh Redemption it seems like this has been a crying shame as this EP is really damn good.

At only 17 minutes in length and containing more quality Death Metal than most bands manage in twice that, this is an EP that you must add to your collection.

A firm essential purchase for all Swedish Death Metal fans. For all Death Metal fans, in fact.

Heathen – Heathen (Review)

HeathenHeathen is a one-man Black Metal band from Norway and this is his second album.

This is Atmospheric Black Metal played with an Old-School flavour and swamped in darkness.

Here we have 53 minutes of music that is authentic Norwegian Black Metal; recognisable enough to be instantly appealing and enticing enough to hold attention.

This is in the lo-fi style and sonically everything just fits perfectly. This is the kind of sound that Black Metal was born to.

Musically the brain behind the outfit is extremely talented and these compositions are very advanced. A lot of bands either concentrate on riffs or atmospheres but on this release we get a decent amount of both.

Quality riffs lay a bedrock on which the moods evolve and dark atmospherics unfold slowly and malevolently.

The pace picks up as well so as to provide variety but even here the aim of the increased speed is to also increase the impact of the feelings that are evoked.

The vocals are high pitched static screeches that are barely audible above the guitars. In effect they act as another layer to the music and it’s like someone is trying to scratch your eyeballs out with sound.

What can you say about an album like this? It needs to be experienced. This is the kind of Black Metal that keeps you in love with the genre.

An absolute must.