Obedience to Dictator – Hogzilla (Review)

Obedience to DictatorObedience to Dictator are a Death Metal band from Italy. This is their second EP.

The band have a tight and precise approach to their music, with everything sounding balanced and where it should be.

These songs have faster sections as well as slower, groovier ones. There are some good riffs on these tracks and they’re arranged well, showing that the band have a grasp of songwriting rather than just stringing bits together.

Modern Death Metal meets an older style, settling for something that’s closer to the latter, but with a nod to the former. Dark melodies are sometimes used to improve the tracks and the band show that they are not interested in recreating just one style of Death Metal. The songs are relatively diverse, with quite a few different ideas and themes being explored throughout, all within the Death Metal framework, of course.

The vocals are mainly deep growls, although screams and other vocal effects are used to add a bit of variation.

In their sound I hear bits of Immolation, Malevolent Creation, Suffocation, Morbid Angel and even a bit of aggressive Thrash similar to Dew Scented in a couple of places.

I enjoyed this and look forward to what they might do next.

Favourite Track: Megabong.

Gorepunch – Give ‘Em Hell (Review)

GorepunchGorepunch are from the US and this is their début album. They play Death Metal.

Comprised of members and ex-members from veteran groups such as Fear Factory, Aborted, System Divide and Malignancy, Gorepunch already have a lot of experience. Give ‘Em Hell makes the most of this and wastes no time in getting to the heart of the matter – blood, guts and blasting brutality. Remember, the quickest way to the heart is through the ribcage.

Their album has an interesting approach to Death Metal that takes some influence from Grindcore but largely adopts a split between Technical Death Metal and a state-of-the-art modern approach, resulting in an album that’s just at home slaying you with a direct approach or flaying you alive with an off-centre complicated attack. It’s a formula that results in a Modern Death Metal album with its putrid fingers in enough different pies to keep you happy and focused throughout the 26 minutes playing time.

The songs are like an enjoyable beating and feature good playing, pummelling riffs and savage vocals. The band use enough melodics to keep things engaging, but don’t allow them to go overboard and detract from the brutality.

A really engaging release that satisfies those cravings for a short, sharp blast of aural carnage that still has some substance to the barbarity.

For fans of Aborted, Job for a Cowboy, The Kennedy Veil, Prostitute Disfigurement, Wormed, Alterbeast, Exhumed, Ichor, etc.

Ancient Moon – Vvulture (Review)

Ancient MoonAncient Moon are an international Black Metal band and this is their début album.

This release contains a single track, Preastigitum Altareas, lasting just under 29 minutes in length.

This is raw, underground Atmospheric/Ambient Black Metal with a fuzzy guitar sound and a deep malevolent aura to it.

Ancient Moon’s Black Metal combines a strong Ambient/Drone influence, resulting in their music being comprised of several levels; layers and layers of darkness and filth are merged together to create a soundtrack of horror and ritualistic nightmare.

The music is hugely atmospheric and speaks of a rolling storm, gathering on the horizon and slowly, inevitably drawing closer, bringing ruin and devastation to all that it touches. This churning maelstrom is dense, impenetrable and evil to the core.

Like any storm, there are moments of calm throughout; Ambient respite amidst the Blackened winds. These are lonely, desolate places though. They act as breathers before the crushing suffocation of the music’s sheer weight is bought to the fore once more.

The singer does a great job of adding further atmosphere and presence to the sound by his assortment of deep cleans, semi-cleans, growls and screams. At times, combined with the music, he sounds downright scary. On occasion his vocals are like chants, at other times they are invocations, at other times they’re announcements; like a dark herald proclaiming the end times, it’s a message to heed and be fearful of. He really does have an excellent voice and his performance is top-of-the-line. Sometimes vicious, sometimes majestic, always intimidating.

The same of which can be said of the music too. In fact, this is less like music and more like an impending unnatural disaster that has been pulled up from Hell and unleashed upon a helpless world to make it die.

Vvulture does its job extremely well and if you like harrowing Black Metal with lots of atmosphere and swirling blackness then Vvulture is definitely for you.

Extremely highly recommended.

Bloodlust – Cultus Diaboli (Review)

BloodlustBloodlust are an Australian Black Metal band and this is their début album.

This is Black Metal that’s infused with a good helping of dirty Thrash Metal to produce ugly Black Thrash that has a very Old-School vibe.

Featuring a sharper, Blackened approach to the early Hellhammer, Venom, Celtic Frost, etc. sound, this is Satanic Black Metal based on these genre founders and with an added Thrash influence, (think early Kreator).

Spiky riffs and acidic screams are used to good effect and the band keep the spirit of proper songs alive in their delivery. Solos are also included in this rusty Metal warrior’s arsenal, and these are always good to hear.

The songs blast and pound with an excitable and ancient energy. There are a lot of bands playing Black Thrash these days but it’s still an enjoyable proposition when done well.

Give this a listen.

Evilheart – Quinquaginta (Review)

EvilheartThis is the third album from Mexican Blackened Death Metallers Evilheart.

Essentially evocative Death Metal with a Blackened twist, Evilheart impress with their vision of Extreme Metal on Quinquaginta.

Think of a cross between bands like Behemoth, Morbid Angel, Melechesh, Belphegor and Nile; bands that are at home combining heaviness and mood.

This is full of impressive riffs, leads and solos. The dark melodics and shining leads are richly textured against the harsh rhythms and pounding drums. It’s apparent that thought and practice has gone into this, and it’s an album that’s as precise as it is passionate.

The band work their magic though a mix sheer ferocity and bright melodics, knowing instinctively when to use one and when the other is more suitable. This results in a brutally atmospheric set of songs, allowing the band to choose the best tools for the job, whether that’s churning, seething ambience or straight-to-the-jugular blasting.

Quinquaginta is full of energy, dynamics and choice riffs. The songs are well-composed slabs of well-thought out and proficiently delivered Metal that have a good combination of instant appeal and depth for longevity.

At almost an hour in length this is an album that you can get absorbed in. There’s a lot to enjoy here and the song lengths allow the band to spread their dark wings and disseminate their message on their own terms and in their own time.

If you’re looking for some advanced Death Metal with a brutal atmosphere and professional delivery then Evilheart are here to provide you with what you seek. Very impressive.

Wolfbastard – Wolfbastard (Review)

WolfbastardWolfbastard are from the UK and play Black Metal/Hardcore. This is their début album.

Like a cross between Darkthrone and Discharge, Wolfbastard play Crust-infused Black Metal that’s as ugly a version of Blackened Hardcore as you’re going to get. D-beat fury and icy rage combine to fuel these songs with an unearthly layer of unhealthy grime.

Harsh screaming vocals are your guide as you traverse the difficult terrain ahead of you. Pounding drums and savage guitars are your constant companions on this unfriendly path.

The songs are short, unmerciless and barbaric. Like a primitive template of how to merge two already atavistic styles, Wolfbastard’s début excels at showing how enjoyable Blackened Hardcore can be. These songs are imbued with an Old-School fury; Hardcore energy and Black Metal hate, combined in just the right amount.

The music is surprisingly catchy in many ways. The songs may not last long, but while they’re around the band make sure the playing time is filled with good riffs and memorable vocal patterns, with many a chorus being quite singable. Well, assuming you want to run around shredding your throat raw by shouting things like Nuns for the Slaughter, Summoning the Antichrist or Wolfbastard. Which maybe you do, who knows? If that’s the case, have at it old bean!

At any rate, this is a release that once again shows how fertile and diverse the UK Metal scene is. Wolfbastard are a worthy addition to the UK’s growing roster of quality bands, and this album is both strong and enjoyable.

Highly recommended.

Skvara – Carpathian Pagan Terror (Review)

SkvaraSkvara are a Ukrainian Black Metal band and this is their second release.

This is underground Black Metal with a raw, fuzzy sound. It’s dark and cold, just as we like it.

The guitars seem to slither out of the dark murk of the songs like snakes sliding through water. The frozen, Blackened melodies do well to create both atmosphere and aggression, while the bass is actually audible and makes a good contribution.

Seething, screeching vocals lash across the back of the music like a vinegar-dipped whip, with every scream a torrent of pain and outrage.

Throughout these 34 minutes Skvara show that they have a deep love for the Black Metal Old-School elite. Importantly, however, they also show they have ambition and talent for the music, as the songwriting on Carpathian Pagan Terror is already quite proficient for such a young band.

Good riffs, melodies and ideas are included and for the most part these songs are very well-composed and performed. Skvara pretty much have all of the necessary components for an enjoyable Black Metal release. If they manage to tighten up their songwriting in a couple of places then they will very quickly become a force to be reckoned with, as this release clearly shows they have a massive amount of promise and potential already.

Highly recommended.

Opus Inferii – Ancient Mysteries Unveiled (Review)

Opus InferiiOpus Inferii are a Brazilian Black Metal band and this is a re-release of their 2012 début album.

Here we have 48 minutes of Occult Black Metal. It’s raw, infused with darkness and cold to the touch.

Ancient Mysteries Unveiled has a solid sound that’s underground enough to suit the music but strong enough to not do the band any disservices.

This has the air of 90s-era Second Wave Black Metal and there’s a Swedish Melodic Black Metal influence at play here too, alongside a Norwegian one as well. Kind of like Dimmu Borgir stripped of orchestration and merged with Dissection, as well as a hint of mid-period Immortal here and there. This allows the band to not be constrained by just a single style. There are quite a few nice touches and ideas on this release, including moments of introspection, atmosphere and grandeur alongside the ritualistic violence.

The songs contain both blast beats and mid-paced sections, with a good balance between rhythm and dark melodics. The riffs are bleakly emotive but also know when to get heavier and meatier as required.

The singer’s Blackened rasp is one that does the genre proud. There are no issues with his performance at all.

This is such a classic style and it’s always a joy to hear Black Metal that’s played with such conviction and with talent. Add to this an infectious sound that allows the band to show off their wares without impediment and you have a recipe for success.

I really enjoyed this. A great combination of older Black Metal styles wrapped in darkness and shrouded in mist. Opus Imferii have impressed.

Wederganger – Halfvergaan Ontwaakt (Review)

WedergangerWederganger are a Black Metal band from the Netherlands. This is their début album.

This is largely mid-paced Black Metal with a haunting, mystical sound. They have a knack for combining typically dark Black Metal auras with more hopeful/heroic feelings to create music that is a double-edged blade, with one side sounding evil and malevolent and the other sounding epic and heroic.

Let’s start things off by saying that this is a damn fine record, with strong songs and interesting ideas.

The vocals combine strangled screams and confident cleans. These work with the dual nature of the music to create an atmosphere that’s both epic and grim. You can kind of think of it as Darkthrone meets Bathory, with probably a little more of the former in their sound rather than the latter. Either way, it results in Halfvergaan Ontwaakt sounding a bit different to the usual Black Metal norm, which is to be commended.

Wederganger continue in this vein for just under 44 minutes, working their black magic on the listener and weaving a spell that’s quite enticing. Their interesting take on Black Metal is infectious and it’s quite clear that the formula they’ve developed on Halfvergaan Ontwaakt works. These are enjoyable songs that perfectly straddle the boundaries of Orthodox Black Metal and epic, Folk Black Metal.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable release that uses two very old styles as its musical base, allowing the band freedom to create their own vision of what Black Metal should be.

And do you know what? Their vision looks pretty damn good.

Favourite Track: Dodendans. Perfectly judged, sorrowful cleans with just the right amount of vigour, powerful leads and a hypnotic, crawling delivery make this track a winner among a wealth of strong songs.