Analepsy – Dehumanization by Supremacy (Review)

AnalepsyThis is the début EP by Portuguese Brutal Death Metallers Analepsy.

This is a Slam Death Metal release that may only last 22 minutes but makes its presence known in no uncertain terms.

Deep pignoise vocals are the order of business, with the singer squealing and growling for his life.

The music is largely devoid of blast beats, (although not completely), but what they lack in speed they more than make up for in heaviness and intensity. These are short, violent tracks that feature a crushing collection of riffs rather than sped-up extremity for the sake of it. Heavy and brutal it may be, but it also teeters on the atmospheric on occasion, which is unexpected and great to hear.

There is some good writing on this short release, with some interesting ideas. Due to this, the band largely avoid becoming just Devourment/Dying Fetus clones and instead create songs that actually have a bit of longevity to them, which is saying a lot for many bands, never mind one of this style.

There’s a vibrant immediacy to these tracks that can’t be denied, and fans of Brutal Death Metal full of breakdowns and chugging heaviness should take note. If you can’t get enough of bands such as Coprocephalic and Infecting the Swarm then Analepsy should be another one who are high on your must-have list.

By God, this is enjoyable! It’s hard to form cogent thoughts when all you want to do is bounce around to their high energy carnage. Slick, professional and boasting an album cover that’s very striking, Analepsy have found a definite fan in me.

You should definitely get this one.

The Unravelling – Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision (Review)

The UnravellingThis is the second album from Canadian Progressive/Industrial Rock band The Unravelling.

The Unravelling’s music is modern, Progressive Rock with Industrial elements. It’s layered with emotive content and depth of songwriting.

Recalling elements of bands such as Filter, Nine Inch Nails, Sunna, Gravity Kills, Tool and Katatonia, Tear a Hole in the Collective Vision is 44 minutes of music that draws you in with its dark edge and personal themes.

This is a diverse collection of songs with a great variety in mood, pace and dynamics across the 10 tracks. It’s easy to view a band such as this as providing the listener with a musical journey to go on, travelling down the various routes and paths with the band as they explore the moods and atmospheres of their self-created landscape.

Strong vocals provide a focal point for the music and the singer’s slightly atypical voice fits the atypical music to a tee.

This is an impressive album and should definitely be checked out by anyone who enjoys this electronic approach to atmospheric Rock.

Give it a try.

Iniquitous Savagery – Subversions of the Psyche (Review)

Iniquitous SavageryIniquitous Savagery are a Death Metal band from the UK. This is their début album.

This is raw, underground Brutal Death Metal that’s just as comfortable grinding it out with a groovy riff as it is pounding along with blast beats.

The songs are well-written slabs of barbarism, but are not without a sense of dynamics and pacing. The band know full well when to take their collective feet off the accelerator and throw in some breakdowns or slower, crushing riffs to keep things interesting.

Subversions of the Psyche has a production that’s warm and wet, as if it’s covered in the blood of a fresh kill. It’s rough around the edges just enough to lend the music an air of the unstable without actually compromising the strength of the songs at all.

The deep growling vocals are what you’d expect for the style, but they’re performed well nonetheless. The singer has a quite satisfying growl that seems to share bandwidth with the guitars, working in sync with them to commit carnage in the name of suffering and mayhem.

There’s plenty of chug ‘n’ groove ‘n’ blast ‘n’ squeal ‘n’ breakdown on Subversions of the Psyche and it all adds up to a very gratifying experience for the listener. This is Brutal Death Metal from the underground, played with enthusiasm and love for the genre.

A recommended listen for fans of brutality.

Deluge – Æther (Review)

DelugeThis is the début album from Deluge, a French Post-Black Metal band.

The album cover alone was enough to entice me to listen to this as a priority, never mind anything else. For me, it’s a cover that promises much.

So on to the music – does it deliver on these early promises?

Well, it starts off without any fanfare or pointless intros; blast beats and an absolutely thunderous sound erupt from your speakers, and it’s like being hit by a wave of churning, violent noise. It’s a very strong opening.

Deluge play fast, violent Black Metal that’s enhanced and added to by more restrained and atmospheric Post-Metal influences. Merging these together, the band create Post-Black Metal that employs the best tools from both styles. But this is a merging that, for the most part, preferentially gives free rein to one or the other of the two; switching between styles with the effortless ease of a professional.

The songs benefit greatly from this approach. The blasting venom is first-rate and the more considered atmospherics are top-of-the-line as well. Resplendent melodies combine with the vitriolic Blackened delivery to create songs that are more powerful than if they were simply one thing or the other.

The vocals are angry Hardcore-esque screamed shouts that spit the French lyrics like they’re hot and poisonous.

Apart from the strength of the songs, (which is the main thing of course), and the album cover, the other main strength of Æther is the positively immense production. Sharp, modern and colossal; this is a recording that suits the band’s delivery and character.

So, back to the original question – does Æther deliver? Yes. Very much, yes.

Simulacrum – Sky Divided (Review)

SimulacrumThis is the second album from Progressive Metallers Simulacrum, who are from Finland.

This is an ambitious album, containing just over an hour of Progressive, sci-fi-themed Metal that incorporates elements of Power Metal and a slightly more aggressive, heavier Modern/Thrash Metal influence into its Progressive Framework.

As befits the subject matter, this is a very keyboard-heavy release, with both Classical tinges and Electronica coming into play. In many ways the keyboards are the stars of the show; they’re never too far from the action and are an essential part of it, as opposed to being an additionality that could be done without.

The songs are well-written and draw the listener into the vivid world that the band create. Simulacrum certainly know how to play and there are more than enough leads and solos to keep the guitar-fanatics happy.

The singer has a decent voice and his delivery suits the ostentatious nature of the music. Good harmonies and melodies are used and combined with the music it results in the majority of these songs being quite memorable and catchy.

A strong recording allows the band to develop an immersive atmosphere that they manage to keep up for the full playing time. While the keyboards do the most to promote the sci-fi elements of the music, (alongside the vocals/lyrics, of course), it’s the guitars and drums that lend the sound such a modern edge.

Simulacrum are to be commended on this album. They’ve managed to straddle a few different styles within their concept, and it all fits together and works wonderfully.

Well, I have very much enjoyed this. Highly recommended.

Chained to the Dead – Born to Rot (Review)

Chained to the DeadChained to the Dead are a US Death Metal band.

Take a look at the album cover. I dare you to guess what this sounds like. Actually, you might not be completely right. I, for example, expected ultra-brutal Death Metal with completely guttural pignoise vocals. Instead, this is a sharper and more precise form of carnage, more akin to Carcass than Brodequin.

Serrated, lacerated, rasping vocals lash out from the music, which itself sounds quite barbed and nasty. The band’s songs are well-written and much more surgical in their attentions than some of their peers. No-one would accuse them of not being brutal, of course, but it’s a different kind of brutality than a lot of Death Metal bands employ.

There’s also quite a bit of variety here, relatively speaking. Well-written songs and interesting riffs combine to produce memorable songs that are actually identifiable from each other quite quickly. In such a short release the band manage to pack in a lot of content and personality.

I also like their considered approach. The music has a sophistication that is shared by bands such as Carcass and Aborted, although the album cover totally denies this. It’s an interesting contrast, and I wonder where this will take Chained to the Dead in the future. I can image them dropping the primitive imagery and becoming even more state-of-the-art in their approach to slaughter. Only time will tell.

For the moment though, Born to Rot is a a surprisingly professional and well-realised 21 minutes of surgical violence that still loves a bit of gore on the side. Well, a lot of gore really, I suppose. Either way, the songs are good and the band have a bright future ahead of them if they can get the right exposure.

Top marks for this. Much more impressive than I was expecting. Check it out.

Temple of Baal – Mysterium (Review)

Temple of BaalThis is the fifth album from this French Black Metal band.

Their fourth album Verses of Fire was 61 minutes of top quality Extreme Metal and was a welcome experience that was a slight change of direction from their earlier, purer Black Metal approach. That album brought more Death Metal influences into the mix, although their Blackened side was still a huge component in their sound.

Fast-forward to 2015 and Mysterium relegates the Death Metal influences to the back seat and their Black Metal roots get to set the direction once more. This is not the more primitive Black/Thrash of their older work though; this is more refined, epic and gloriously sophisticated in its realisation. As such, the songs are generally longer and more involved than their previous averages, and the thick dark aura of the songs is cloying with its aggressive malevolence.

This release is full of Blackened riffs, blasting fury and evocative melodies. There’s a driving majesty that underpins each of the tracks on this album, so regardless of the particular style of music that makes up any given section it’s holistically all brought together by an iron will and a coherent vision. This shouldn’t give the impression of an album that’s “all-over-the-place” or struggling to find an identity as there’s none of that here. Rather, this is sophisticated Black Metal that still takes influences from Death and Thrash Metal, but they’re subsumed into the overarching Blackened style and whatever the band does with these influences is consistent and reasonable within the confines of their sound.

These songs are well-written advanced exemplars of the style and each one brings something extra to the table.

The vocals are dark growling screams, perfectly suited to the environment they find themselves in.

The production of the album is a strong one; it’s huge and powerful yet manages to maintain the feeling of raw, restrained chaos and fettered Blackened evil that the songs exude as easily as breathing.

I was a fan of Versus of Fire, but this is better. The progression of their sound is welcome and it seems that Temple of Baal are one of those bands that are always looking to better themselves and to see what they can do better or different next time. It’s not a massive change in style, of course, but it’s enough to make Mysterium into an extremely compelling and engaging listen.

Overall, this album is a triumph and really, really strong. However, there are times on this release when they really outdo themselves. Sometimes, when the drums are blasting, the rhythm guitars are full of emotive darkness and the leads are exotic and powerful…well…it’s just a hair-raising experience.

Great stuff. I’m very happy with Mysterium.

Dark Buddha Rising – Inversum (Review)

Dark Buddha RisingThis is the sixth album from Finnish Doom band Dark Buddha Rising.

Dark Buddha Rising are purveyors of Psychedelic Doom/Drone. It’s a minimalistic-yet-shaded affair, with all varieties of dark catered for. It’s also bleak in a comforting, warm sort of ceremonial way.

There are only two tracks here, but these amount to 47 minutes of music. This is a slow-burning release, steeped in a lazy insistence; it will absolutely get to where it’s going, but it will not be hurried at all. Acting like the relentless tide of glacial marching, the band proceed to build and build until you almost can’t take it any longer.

There’s a definite Old-School, almost 70s vibe to parts of the music, although this is darker and heavier than anything from that era. The vocals are both hypnotic cleans and screeching wails; both add value to the musical onslaught and both provide a different emphasis for the listener as they work their way through the tracks.

Understated-yet-atmospheric keyboards add spice to the warm recording and the heavy bass sound provides enough low frequencies to crack glass.

This isn’t ultra-slow music; it’s on the slow-side of course, but it picks up the pace a bit here and there, although not enough to be described as fast.

The band this reminds me of most is Drone/Doom legends 5ive, although Inversum is more ritualistic in a way. Dark Buddha Rising are not a million miles away from this and it’s safe to say that if you’re a fan of 5ive then you’re likely to enjoy what Dark Buddha Rising do too.

Tune in and drone out.

Sardonis – III (Doom)

SardonisAs the name suggests, this is the third album from Sardonis, who are an instrumental Stoner Doom band from Belgium.

Sardonis combine elements of Stoner Metal, Doom and Sludge into their songs. There’s no vocals, so the emphasis is purely on the music itself.

The album has more variation on it than you might think too. It avoids being a one-dimensional Stoner-fest by adding in elements of these other genres so that the band take you to many different places throughout the journey. The band are obviously equally comfortable playing at all kinds of speeds, and this is another reason that they keep things interesting.

The album has an incredibly warm and textured recording, benefiting their sound by focusing the listener’s attention on what matters.

Huge riffs are a big part of their repertoire, as befitting an instrumental band of this nature. This is not all they’re capable of though, as they also know how to build atmosphere and mood across these 39 minutes.

Occasionally I have mixed feelings about bands that are entirely instrumental; sometimes I think vocals would enhance the music and other times I know it would merely detract from what they have created. With Sardonis I think it’s a mixture of the two, although favouring the latter. Maybe a few added vocals on one or two tracks in a couple of places, leaving the bulk of it instrumental? Regardless, III is a massively enjoyable release and the lack of vocals doesn’t hold it back at all.

Recommended for fans of Karma to Burn, High on Fire, Judd Madden, Lord Dying, Pelican, etc.

Favourite Track: Forward to the Abyss. Because who doesn’t love a 12-minute Pelican-esque Doomathon with a hint of Earth to the guitars?