Chugun – Virus (Review)

ChugunChugun are a Thrash/Death Metal band from Israel. This is their début album.

Chugun’s sound combines Old-School Thrash Metal with some just-as-old Death Metal influences as well as a pinch of a more modern approach to produce this enjoyable 30 minutes of Metal mayhem.

The vocals alternate between deep grunts and higher screams. The singer does both styles very well and her voice is well-suited to both roles.

This album is an up-tempo rager, with the main bulk of the music having a healthy Thrash Metal base, onto which Death Metal and some Modern Metal elements are incorporated. There are a lot of good riffs on here and the bend seem to revel in what they do. It’s clear a lot of love and passion has gone into this release and this comes out in the songs.

My tolerance for Thrash Metal has lowered a lot of late, partially due to the over-saturation of the retro/comedy style; Virus, however, has none of this nonsense and this is a really enjoyable release. It’s more aggressive than most due to their Death Metal aspect and the songs motor along quite nicely.

The musicianship is tight and the recording loud and heavy. It’s a modern-sounding rendition of an older style, played with grit and devotion.

Unexpectedly good. Damn good, in fact. Check this out.

Mammoth Salmon – Last Vestige of Humanity (Review)

Mammoth SalmonThis is the début album from US Stoner/Doom band Mammoth Salmon.

We met this band previously with their enjoyable Call of the Mammoth EP.

On this new release the band continue their warm, organic and massively chunky and fuzzy approach to the genre. The songs are like a friendlier, less-evil, more-welcoming version of Electric Wizard mixed with a bit of Melvins.

The band also seem bigger and better this time around, in pretty much every respect. The guitars are more in-your-face and the vocals more confident.

The riffs are big and the grooves are colossal. The guitars and charismatic vocals are frequently in perfect sync, complementing each other and creating songs that have real presence.

Occasionally the distortion fades somewhat and the band indulge in a bit of lazy, exploratory mood-setting with a casual solo over the lonesome bass, almost as an afterthought.

Very nice.

This album has personality, songs and giant riffs. What more do you want from this kind of band?

Satanic Assault Division – Kill the Cross (Review)

Satanic Assault DivisionSatanic Assault Division are from Denmark and this is their second album. They play Black Metal.

I’m guessing that the name alone is enough to let you know what kind of music this is. Yes, here we have Traditional Black Metal with lots of bite and plenty of violence. What might surprise you, however, is just how damn catchy and memorable this record is.

The songs are full of decent and substantial riffs. The guitars are dark and sharp, exactly as this kind of Black Metal should be. The band demonstrate very early on that they have good songwriting skills and these tracks make an impression.

Blasting drums provide plenty of speed and groovy, mid-paced riffs lend the music an extra energy, with the band firing on all cylinders. There’s even the odd guitar solo; these are usually understated and brief but provide extra interest when they appear. The solos, alongside some of the more Rocking guitars, lend this a Black ‘n’ Roll feeling in places, although this is but part of their sound.

The singer’s voice is full of bile and hatred, croaking out from the Blackened tunes as if in a murderous trance.

This is a band who have produced a Black Metal album with an emphasis on catchy music and the kind of songs that it’s easy to like.

14 tracks, (one a cover) – 55 minutes of scathing Black Metal. Best experienced at full volume.


Chiral – Night Sky (Review)

ChiralChiral is an Italian one-man band. This is his second album.

I have enjoyed watching Chiral’s development over the course of his releases that he’s put out so far. From the primitive Proto-Death/Black Metal of Winter Eternal, to the frozen Blackened landscape of Abisso, to the more ambitious Atmospheric Black Metal of his splits with Haate and Nebel Über Den Urnenfeldern/Eternal Sleep…the brain behind Chiral as consistently impressed with both the quality of his music and his progression within it.

So what of this latest release then? Showing that he doesn’t sit still, Night Sky continues the previously developed themes of Atmospheric Black Metal, only this time adding a Post-Black Metal element to the music, resulting in an album that favours mood and texture over all else.

For a surface comparison to to other bands, I’d say Night Sky combines elements of Wolves in the Throne Room, Falls of Rauros, Falloch, Vinterriket, and Opeth.

The songs are long and ambitious tracks that show a love of both Black Metal and a more naturalistic sound that is quite atavistic in its realisation. Folk melodies and influences would be an appropriate description, although it feels somehow older than this.

Acoustic passages, Folk instrumentation and Progressive Metal tendencies work together with the icy, Blackened core to create Atmospheric Post-Black Metal that takes in many influences over the 58 minutes of material and ably demonstrates the talent and skill of Chiral.

These songs are slow-builders; ramping up the atmosphere and emotional content over the span of the playing time and layering just enough keyboards and extra instrumentation on top to really provide a consistent sense of space, flavour and feeling.

So there you have it. Another quality Chiral release, his best work yet I’d say.

Fans of Atmospheric Black Metal take note.

Show Me Wolves – Between Man, God and False Idols (Review)

Show Me WolvesThis is the début album of Icelandic one-man Black Metal project Show Me Wolves.

So, this is a little different. Here we have Progressive Black Metal that takes elements of both Old-School Black Metal and cutting-edge Post-Black Metal as well as, believe it or not, bits of modern Metal here and there. Okay, so on paper it sounds a mish-mash of genres that normally never meet, but when you listen to it it does all make sense. For the most part, anyway.

Black Metal with a modern, Progressive flavour is the main order of business, but there’s a good deal of other stuff going on here. The modern Metal influence is not as jarring as it first might seem, as in reality this mainly means the Progressive Black Metal is added to by some stirring, upliftingly bright melodic guitars that serve as an icing on top of a Blackened cake. Think the types of melodies used by bands like Killswitch Engage and the like, only Blacken it up some.

It’s an unusual route to take but it works well due to the coherent delivery. Ultimately, this is Post/Progressive Black Metal that’s modern and forward-thinking, yet retains an atavistic violence at its core.

The vocals are harsh screams, unyielding in their extremity and a definite counterpoint to the largely shiny, resplendent music. He sounds angry, and I like that. Clean vocals also appear occasionally, lending a despondent, lonesome edge to things.

Before listening to this, the low-rent album cover led me to believe I was in for some Old-School Darkthrone clone, but I was quite wrong. Between Man, God and False Idols has impressed. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than a lot and shows massive promise.

One to check out, for sure.

Holocausto Canibal/Desecration – Intravisceral Necropsia – Split

DesecrationHolocausto Canibal are a Portugese Deathgrind band who have teamed up with Desecration, a Death Metal band from the UK, for this short-but-bloody split.

Desecration are a band who I’ve been a big fan of for years, although I must confess I haven’t heard their newer material. As such, I was looking forward to hearing them again on this split. Desecration have always been one of the absolute best Death Metal bands not just in the UK but in the world, and this seemed like the ideal time to get reacquainted with them.

Here they offer us a new song – Intravisceral Exhibition – combined with a remix of Grave Secrets off their Cemetery Sickness album.

Well, as usual, they don’t disappoint. Straight off the bat it’s blasting Death Metal mayhem, with the vocals sounding harsher and more vicious than ever. The band retain the ability to be extreme and, (relatively), catchy at the same time, with the music and vocals working well together rather than off doing their own things, as seems to be the case with a lot of bands.

In addition to speed they always manage to throw in a decent amount of heavy grooving, which is always good to have a bit of a bounce along too, if you’re so inclined.

I’m very happy with their contribution to this split, and in my mind it merely cements their status as a legendary Death Metal band, one of the best in the business.

Holocausto CanibalHolocausto Canibal are up next. Unlike Desecration, I haven’t heard these Portugese veterans before. They offer up one song – Necropsia Cadaverina – and it makes a good impression.

Deep growls and sickened screams herald the onset of something ugly and rotten. They’re not quite as polished as Desecration, nor do they need to be. This is visceral music for bloody-minded people.

This song is a Death Metal-infused, gore-soaked few minutes and the dark rhythms, chugging heaviness and intense riffs make for a most enjoyable track. Proceeding with the intensity of an inhuman killer, utterly focused on its task, Necropsia Cadaverina is a worthwhile introduction for me to the band and definitely makes me happy enough to want to check out their other work.

A top quality split, showcasing two veteran bands that sound as fresh as a dead body. A must-have release.

Loputon Suo – Loputon Suo (Review)

Loputon SuoLoputon Suo are a Finnish Black Metal band and this is their début demo.

Lasting only 12 minutes, this is a dense, murky affair with elements of Melodic Black Metal and Death Metal included.

The vocals are bestial growls that are worryingly feral. They give the band a feeling of something dangerous and uncompromising. Decent riffs and a dark aura work with the melodic guitars in a complementary fashion.

When the ferocious growls are mixed with the atavistic music and Old-School melodies, something quite special emerges. This demo has an obscure and authentic feel above all else.

The recording is stripped back, raw and befitting of both the demo status and the style. However, that’s not to say it’s a bad sound, and it’s quite endearing in a harsh, violent way.

Very enjoyable. Check this out for your underground, Blackened fill.

Horrendous – Anareta (Review)

HorrendousHorrendous are a US Death Metal band and this is their third album.

Playing Old-School/Traditional Death Metal, this is the follow-up to 2014’s impressive Ecdysis.

Following on from this previous release, Horrendous continue to offer a well-rounded Death Metal package, full of interesting riffs, decent melodies, intricate solos and actual well-thought-out songs.

Their approach to the material is refreshing, even given the Old-School nature of the music; it’s recognisable as instantly Old-School Death Metal but it doesn’t sound dated at all. Horrendous are one of the few bands that play this style who are trying to move it forwards rather than just wallowing in what was released decades ago.

There’s something deeply satisfying about this music. It demonstrates a band who are able to compose songs that have a lot of depth and atmosphere without ever devolving into filler-esque extremity or retro-parody. Horrendous have well and truly stamped their own personality and vision on a well-worn style.

Once again, the recording is warm and seems to pulsate with life. One of the things I enjoyed on Ecdysis was that you could hear the bass and on Anareta this is still the case.

The singer’s voice is still a pleasing mix of Obituary/Morbid Angel and he spends his time on Anareta providing a compelling focal point for the music.

On this latest album Horrendous demonstrate why they are quite rightly lauded as one of the best when it comes to this type of Death Metal. As much as I enjoyed Ecdysis I think on this latest album they’ve upped their game even more.

Impressive and essential.

Meuchelmord – Apathie (Review)

MeuchelmordMeuchelmord is a one-man Black Metal band from Germany and this is his latest release.

This is Depressive Black Metal that starts gently with a soft piano intro and quickly descends into the kind of despondent, oppressive music that Depressive Black Metal is all about.

Aspects of Shoegaze are present in the mix and the songs easily invoke feelings of sadness and nostalgia in the listener.

The vocals are mainly high-pitched screams that are just as serrated and barbed as you would expect, lashing out from the down-beat music like savage whips.

There’s a decent, fuzzy guitar sound that strikes just the right tone between being cold and emotive. The tracks are straightforward takes on the sub-genre and have enough dynamics and content to work.

Piano parts are artfully laced throughout the tracks just enough to add a further veneer of melancholy to things.

I favour this kind of music the slower and more miserable it sounds, and Apathie is no different.

Try this out for size.

Favourite Track: Jahr.

Stellar Master Elite – III: Eternalism – The Psychospherical Chapter (Review)

Stellar Master EliteThis is the third album from German Black Metallers Stellar Master Elite.

Here we have Black Metal that managers to foster an air of festering rot alongside a sophisticated malevolent darkness. It’s an intriguing combination that gives Stellar Master Elite a distincive flavour when compared to a lot of bands.

Their music has a depressive, Doom-drenched Black Metal base that’s not a million miles away from a band like Forgotten Tomb in spirit, although in reality they don’t sound too similar. The music is powerful and atmospheric without being pompous or overblown. This is very definitely epic music, but in a miserable, negativity-infused way.

The deep growling vocals consolidate the feelings of Funeral Doom/Death-gone-Black Metal. The singer’s voice is full of dark promise and has a gruff, tight character that allows it to be both brutal and compact. The screamed vocals are more typical-Black Metal, but no less effective for this. Clean vocals appear on the fourth track, adding yet another dimension to the band’s music.

Keyboards/synths/Hellsounds add a considerable amount to the already emotive Blackened dirge and it quickly becomes apparent that this is an integral aspect of the band’s music. They’re also creative and atypical in many respects, which is something I like.

This is a diverse and well-paced album, with lots to keep the listener interested and many different moods and palettes used effectively. There’s plenty of feeling thrown into the mix here, as well as a decent helping of prime-riffage. Occasionally the streamlined darkness that the band peddle brings to mind Enslaved and their sterling work in similar areas.

This is an impressive collection of long songs that successfully fuses Black Metal, Doom and all things dark and evil into 63 minutes of quality Metal.