Deviance – A New Planetary Perspective (Review)

DevianceThis is the début album from US one-man Death Metal project Deviance.

This is Technical/Progressive Death Metal that’s not shy of flexing its musical muscles and showing off what it can do.

Frequent leads and solos are built around a sturdy rhythm section and scathing vocals. The songs tread that fine line between ostentation and brutality without sacrificing too much of one for the other.

Decent grooves and riffs work with the overt technicality. Winding melodics make brief appearances and the songs seem to pulsate and mutate with careful yet unexpected life.

The tracks are intricate beasts that sometimes keep a central theme to them so that a song is still identifiable amidst the complex barbarity; other times though they allow themselves to journey where they see fit, snaking and sliding their way through involved guitar sections and convoluted drumming. Either way, it’s an enjoyable listen.

This album has an interesting feel to it. The music is less-song oriented than Progressive Death Metal can sometimes be and instead veers towards outright Technical Death Metal territory where the songs are a lot more frequently sacrificed for the sake of complexity. Having said that though, this is notable in that it’s not overly-frenzied or chaotic as a lot of Technical Death Metal can be. This is a more restrained and thoughtful complexity; the brain behind Deviance knows exactly where he wants to take the music and the journey is what matters, rather than the structure itself.

Cello, violin and keyboards all make appearances, widening the musical vistas available to the listener. It all adds value and makes a good impression.

The vocals sound like scraping sheets of steel grinding against each other. That’s the deep growls. The higher screams just sound like reality is tearing.

This is a quality album of Technical Death Metal that’s notable for its lack of chaotic frenzy and for its more restrained approach to complexity and nuance. Throw in a bit of atmospheric enhancement and the end result is a most enjoyable 50 minutes.

Highly recommended.

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Ilsa – The Felon’s Claw (Review)

IlsaIlsa are a Sludge Metal band from the US, and this is their fourth album.

I’m a huge fan of Ilsa’s last album Intoxicantations. It’s such an excellent album with an immense sound that it’s been a firm favourite of mine since I first reviewed it. To say I was excited when this new release popped into my inbox was an understatement.

This is filthy, unpleasant music that only true Metal fans could like. It’s horrendously ugly and disgustingly depraved and we fucking love it that way. Ilsa are masters of their formidable blend of Sludge, Doom, Crust and Punk.

They retain their heavier-than-Hell sound and it’s great to hear them just crash into the first track Oubliette without any preamble.

The vocals are still snarling, vicious beasts that seem to rend and tear their way through the playing time. This attitude is apparent from the very first rabid bark and the intensity is kept up throughout all 48 minutes.

Once more, each song has its own identity and character. This is a complete album, holistically, but like Intoxicantations, The Felon’s Claw is made up of individually identifiable songs. So many bands are incapable of this, for some reason, so it’s great when you can put an album on randomly and it’s easy to identify what song is playing and where it sits in the running order. After a few spins, of course.

On this new release Ilsa sound a bit slower and groovier than their last outing. They still step up the speed on occasion, but overall the Doom/Sludge side of their sound is more prevalent. With riffs that could capsize ocean liners, Ilsa populate their disgusting landscape with ugly landmarks that you can’t help but stare at in wonder.

Well, I’m extremely pleased with what the band have produced here. Ilsa have not disappointed.

There’s no reason, none whatsoever, for you to not get this.

Chaos Plague – Existence Through Annihilation (Review)

Chaos PlagueChaos Plague are from Italy and this is their début album. They play Progressive Death Metal.

I enjoyed their first EP, and two of the three songs on this appear on the album too.

The vocals are mainly growling shouts that are halfway between legible and guttural. Added to these are clean vocals that have improved since their first outing on their EP.

The music is Progressive Death Metal that is influenced by the likes of Death, Atheist, Cynic and the like.

There are enough solos and technical flourishes to keep the listener happy and these songs all pack a good deal of content into their running time. At 60 minutes in length this is not for the faint-hearted, but there’s enough variation and good songwriting to keep things flowing nicely.

A good production makes the most of what they can do and I especially like music that you can hear the bass on; Chaos Plague make good use of this often neglected instrument and Existence Through Annihilation is enriched by its prominence.

There’s a lot to take in here but perseverance pays off and Chaos Plague have a lot of talent for this kind of thing.

A quality listen.

Midnight Odyssey – Shards of Silver Fade (Review)

Midnight OdysseyMidnight Odyssey are an Australian one-man Black Metal band and this is his second album.

Well, what an epic release this is. Eight tracks, lasting a colossal 143 minutes. Shards of Silver Fade demands a big investment of your time. Is it worth it? You’re damn right it is.

Midnight Odyssey has a Black Metal base that has been expanded to include Ambient, Darkwave, Funeral Doom and Post-Black Metal, resulting in the weighty collection of tracks here.

In many ways it’s difficult to review a release such as this. It would be far better for you to just accept the fact that this is an album you need to get and go and get it. Once done, make a night-time trip to the top of some local hill or mountain, put on your headphones, gaze at the night sky and get lost in Midnight Odyssey’s transcendental, elemental, cosmic embrace.

In lieu of this, however, a darkened room will suffice for now; just zone out and concentrate on nothing but the music.

Anyway, if you have yet to hear them then my feeble prose will have to do. This is not a band to dip into for a quick fix of whatever you fancy, this is a band to pay attention to and take notice of.

These songs combine spacious Progressive Ambient/Doom with ancient Blackened moods that sound like they were old before metal was even invented. The combination of Darkwave, Doom and Black Metal is one that works incredibly well and sounds flawlessly delivered.

Grand orchestral passages sweep across the heavens and invoke feelings of loss and grandeur, frequently at the same time. This is highly emotive music but probably not in the way that you might think. Moving, is probably a better description. This is music that’s moving.

The vocals don’t let the side down either, with croaking Black Metal rasps sharing the stage with charismatic cleans that seem imbued with some form of long-lost wisdom.

An intriguing, ambitious and ultimately victorious merging of Burzum and Vinterriket; Shards of Silver Fade is easily up to the task of fitting in with such hallowed company.

If I haven’t made this clear by now, Shards of Silver Fade is a must listen. It’s a long one, of course, but well worth it. I suggest you start now.

Dys Inbunden – One with Morbidity, the Opus Misanthropy (Review)

Dys InbundenDys Inbunden are a Swedish Black Metal band and this is their second album.

Dys Ibunden have crafted a ferocious assault on the senses with their new album. It’s an intense 87 minutes of music that will leave you battered, bruised and probably sacrificed to some underworld deity or other. And yes, you read the playing time correctly. There is a lot of Black Metal here.

The songs are on the longer side and no opportunity to spread their dark message is missed. The majority of the album is hyper-aggressive Black Metal, so beloved of the Swedish style. The band skilfully add a bit of atmosphere and depth to this, however, otherwise the long playing time would mean this would get very boring, very quickly. Dys Inbunden play a more mature, complex version of the Swedish Black Metal style, in many ways, and these songs work because of this.

The vocals are a cross between standard Black Metal screams and a more Cradle of Filth-esque piercing delivery. Occasional cleans appear; these are used sparingly and are kind of like semi-heroic, chanting hymns. Or something.

The band have a rather muscular sound, which is unusual for a Black Metal band. The bass makes its presence felt and the combination of the guitars and drums makes it feel like you’ve been punched in the face a few hundred times.

If hostile Black Metal is your thing and you’re not adverse to a bit of depth and atmosphere then check out Dys Inbunden

Skinless – Only the Ruthless Remain (Review)

SkinlessSkinless are from the US and play Brutal Death Metal. This is their fifth album.

Skinless have returned! Anticipation is high with this release.

Immediately the band make a strong entrance with a massive sound, evil guttural vocals and those ultra-sexy Skinless riffs that only they do so well.

It’s a pleasure to hear the guttural stylings of the original vocalist once more. He personifies the stereotypically rough, ultra-low Death Metal growl and as such is absolutely one of the best at performing them.

Skinless have always had a certain special knack for combining aggressive carnage with brutal grooves. The slower, groovier riffs are a particular favourite of mine. Slow or fast though, there’s always an infectious energy about them.

The songs are all winners and each one earns its place in the Death Metal premier league. Although the band are Hellishly brutal, there’s more than that going on here as the riffs tell a bloody story and the drums thump out their malevolent beat. Memorable, impressive songs are the meaty main course in this sumptuous feast of rotten flesh.

Skinless are heavy and they’ve always been exceptionally heavy. Death Metal by its very nature is a heavy form of music, but there’s heavy and then there’s HEAVY. Skinless own the latter.

The music on this album should be a wakeup call for any band playing this style. Daddy is home. While Skinless have been away the Brutal Death Metal scene has multiplied and mutated, as these things always do, but who cares? Skinless are back and ready to show everyone how it’s done.

I’m incredibly pleased with this return to the fray by one of the best Death Metal bands out there.

Skinless, you have been missed.

Ashtar – Ilmasaari (Review)

AshtarAshtar are from Switzerland and play Blackened Doom. This is their début album.

Ashtar play music that incorporates elements of Black Metal, Doom and Sludge. I do love a bit of Blackened Doom, and if you’ve been keeping up with the likes of Usnea, Mourning Pyre, Atriarch and Upyr then Ashtar should be your cup of tea too.

Even though the album cover screams Classic Doom, Ashtar’s musical aesthetic is more on the Black Metal side of things. Aspects of Classic Doom do make it into their sound, but these have been Blackened and corrupted into the sickening Sludge mass that they are now.

The vocals are mainly Blackened shrieks that seem to scratch at the back of your eyes like something unclean that wants to come into our world. The singer seems to have a knack for this kind of malevolent rasp, although she does occasionally use her voice in a few other ways throughout these six tracks.

The songs are bleak and sobering glimpses into the mindset of their creators. There are enough riffs and quality guitar lines here to keep anyone satisfied, but Ashtar are primarily about the mood and atmosphere that they create with their chosen medium.

The band are a duo and as such the music is relatively minimalistic, however it rapidly seems to expand to fill a large amount of space with its gloominess and it never seems like you’re listening to anything other than a full band. This is especially true when they incorporate additional sounds and instrumentation into their songs to further deepen the atmosphere.

There’s something extremely satisfying about this release. From the occult feelings to the Blackened bile; from the Doom aura to the impressive riffs; Ashtar have crafted a release that will appeal to the darkness inside.

Highly recommended.

Nightslug – Loathe (Review)

NightslugNightslug are a German Sludge band and this is their second album.

Nightslug sound as their name suggests – ponderous and heavy. This is discordant, ugly Sludge that grips you by their hair and forces your face into the vomit. This, of course, is something you like. So eat it all up. Eat it now.

The songs have a good groovy swagger and the guitars steal the show with their cocky bravado and murky heaviness. The vocals shouldn’t be discounted, however, as they sound like the aural equivalent of an acid splash to the face.

The bass makes its presence felt like a steel girder that props everything up and works with the guitars to create a solid and crushing foundation for the songs to destroy everything around them.

Feedback, distortion and an overall dirty, grim aesthetic is par for the course with Sludge but Nightslug do it with style. They have a slightly unusual sound in their guitar tone and the way the vocals are mixed. It works exceedingly well though, and gives them a distinctive flavour. It reminds me of, (although sounds different from), the production of Rabies Caste’s début album Let the Soul Out and Cut the Vein, which also had an atypical sound. Like Rabies Caste though, they have taken the Sludge template as handed down by Eyehategod and made it firmly their own.

Also like Rabies Caste, Nightslug specialise in songs that are incredibly catchy and memorable. Certainly not in a radio-friendly way, of course, but these are riffs and tunes that stick in the head like an infected nail. It’s painful, but a twisted stroke of master workmen and the Sludge Gods should be proud of them.

I love a good Sludge band and Loathe will be firmly a part of my playlists for some time to come.

This is one you must check out.

Favourite Track: Vile Pigs. With a main riff that just won’t quit, this song is as catchy as Hell.