Die Choking – III (Review)

Die ChokingThis is the debut album from US Grinders Die Choking.

After two very good-but-short EPs, (I and II), we now get III; this time, it’s longer.

Although not by much, really. Here we have a whole 14 minutes of tightly-compressed angry music. After the promise of the two EPs, this release lives up to my expectations.

The music is modern Grindcore full of extremity and rage, burning everyone around it with its intensity and brutality.

Their sound has progressed and developed from their earlier Grindings into an even more focused expression of hatred and violence. The vocals have improved and seem buried in the music in such a way it seems impossible to separate them.

Each song may be short, but they still manage to pack in a lot of content, with quite a few different sub-styles of Grind rearing their malformed heads throughout. It all adds a good degree of interest and variety in what is essentially a chaotic blast-fest of brutality and destruction. From old to new styles, from crust to modern, from Napalm Death to Misery Index; there’s a lot of meat on this violent treat.

If you’re into Grindcore, (and who isn’t, really?), then this is highly enjoyable and easily likeable.

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Arrant Saudade – The Peace of Solitude (Review)

Arrant SaudadeArrant Saudade are a Funeral Doom band from the UK. This is their début album.

Featuring members of Aphonic Threnody and Abysmal Growls of Despair, you know there’s already a wealth of Doom experience and knowledge behind this release before you even hit play.

And when you do hit play, it starts off gently with piano, and then slowly awakens a the sleeping spirit of despair.

Slow, drawn-out and dripping with lost hope, these 5 songs take 44 minutes out of your life only to replace them with a very real and visceral sense of woe and misery.

Monstrous vocals are deep and unrelenting, growling their way through the solitude of the music like brutal and unwelcome guests.

So far, so Funeral Doom. But then Arrant Saudade do the unexpected and introduce clean vocals, and suddenly everything changes. Sometimes ethereal and sometimes sombre, these choir-like vocals are expertly performed and perfectly judged. When the angelic cleans soar above the beautiful music and seem to join with the resplendent melodies to create something greater than the sum of its Funeral Doom parts…it makes quite an impact I can tell you. Post-Funeral Doom? Sure, why not.

At any rate, the heavenly cleans and the dreamy, melancholic music seem to wash over you like liquid sound and it really is an uplifting and transcendent experience in many ways.

Okay, so not everything is perfect about this album – there are few which can lay claim to this grandiose title – but it’s hugely accomplished and, importantly, does something a bit different with the style. The core of the sub-genre is there with all of the hallmark traits, but The Peace of Solitude is far more emotive and atmospheric than most of its peers, gleaming with dazzling brightness and lustrous with magnificent despondency.

In some ways the growls are the weakest parts of these songs – it’s not that they’re badly done, (they’re not), it’s just that the rest of the music is so very well done that they have some catching up to do.

A relatively minor quibble though, in what is a very impressive slab of uplifting misery.

Highly recommended.

Avulsed – Altar of Disembowelment (Review)

AvulsedAvulsed are a Death Metal band from Spain. This is their latest EP.

Avulsed are one of the best Death Metal bands in the world. Sorry, but that’s just a fact. Ever since I first got Stabwound Orgasm in 1999, I’ve been hooked, and that album still remains one of the best of the genre.

Their last album Ritual Zombi was full of gruesome goodies, and on this latest EP, we get a short 23 minutes of brutality, comprising 4 originals and a Black Sabbath cover.

The Avulsed seal of quality we’ve come to expect from these veterans is firmly stamped all over these tracks and the music is full of well-written songs that are catchy, memorable and filled with meaty Death Metal morsels.

Their venerated singer still sounds like the father of all Cookie Monsters and his voice, as usual, is cavernous with aggressive growls sounding larger than life and twice as deadly.

If you don’t know Avulsed, (tsk tsk), then just know that they play Classic Death Metal with plenty of catchy riffs, licks and brutal heaviness.

The production is heavy, clear and wrapped in an odour of entrails. The instruments all shine when they need to and everything is balanced and perfectly covered in blood.

Another top-quality release from Avulsed. Let’s hope they reign in bloody chunks for many years to come.

Dissident – Unleash the Violence… In Thrash We Trust (Review)

DissidentDissident are a Thrash Metal band from Chile. This is their début album.

This is riff-heavy Thrash Metal modelled on the Old-School style and dripping with the essence of the Bay Area scene from back in the day.

In many ways these songs are all about the guitars and what they get up to – not in some form of ultra-impressive technical insanity, but rather it’s all about the riffs and the feelings the evoke. I mean, how can you not want to just bang your head and fists when listening to this?

And they sound good too, production-wise; here we have a band that have a good recording from the off – everything balanced and nicely ripping. Solos and leads are bountiful, seemingly shredded out with ease. We mustn’t neglect the drums though – these are solid and do exactly what’s required of them.

After the love that the guitars and riffs get in all of the songwriting, it’s almost as if the vocals have been included merely for completion’s sake. They’re performed adequately in a style reminiscent of old, old Anthrax, and I think once the singer develops a little more force and charisma then they’ll really come into their own.

This album rips along nicely for 46 minutes and reminds the listener that some bands are still capable of Hellishly good Thrash riffs.

Check them out and see what you think.

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/dissidentchile

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dissident.chile

Cult of Occult – Five Degrees of Insanity (Review)

Cult of OccultCult of Occult are a Doom/Sludge band from France. This is their latest album.

This is a band that the word CRUSHING was designed to describe, (yes, in capitals no less). There are five songs here; 65 minutes of misanthropic content.

How to describe Cult of Occult’s nihilistic, hate-fuelled music? They essentially take all of the pissed off, angry highlights of Sludge Metal, (Eyehategod, Charger), and draw them out to epic Doom lengths, resulting in colossal slabs of misery-drenched heaviness that are so caustic and scathing that the songs seem to have a painfully physically presence.

It’s not all ugly belligerence though, as the band skilfully navigate these seas of filth in ways that seem to harness the darkness into tsunamis of torment that crash and build onto and into each other, creating thick, distressing atmospheres.

These songs are deceptively simple though, and upon closer inspection you see that there’s more going on within the oceans of distortion and heaviness than you might think on first glance. The tides of riffs and groove-laden guitars hide a songwriting-skill that belies their nasty, noxious nature.

The singer’s impressive snarl is just shades of anger and repressed rage given form and feeling. Coupled with the Doom/Sludge of the music it seems it’s finally getting the outlet it needs to spew forth its venomous diatribes.

The dirge-like, repetitive nature of the relentlessly crushing music is hypnotic in its delivery and Five Degrees of Insanity is one of those releases that can do no wrong for me.

This is addictive like the worst of drugs. You don’t just listen to this, you feel it.

Gorod – A Maze of Recycled Creeds (Review)

GorodGorod are a Death Metal band from France and this is their fifth album.

The band play Technical Death Metal and play it pretty damn well. Over the course of their existence they have built up a rightfully-deserved reputation for quality and on this latest release it’s easy to see why.

Gorod have always been fond of atypical, unusual, Jazz-inflected riffs and on A Maze of Recycled Creeds there seems to be even more of these than usual, which, if you’re familiar with Gorod at all, is only ever a good thing.

Another, (one of many), good things about Gorod is their inclusion of a Progressive Metal element to their music, which allows the band to lock into some astoundingly good sections as the album tears along, mindful of not letting slip any moment for greatness. This is Technical Death Metal that values songs and recognises the need for good atmosphere and feeling among the Jazz/Funk craziness and experimental brutality.

All of the instruments are shockingly well-played and Gorod are one of those seemingly-rare bands that know not only how to use a bass guitar but also that you must be able to actually hear it for it to be truly utilised correctly.

Vocally the singer has a charismatic growl that’s largely blunt and ugly, yet still seemingly refined when compared to a lot of Death Metal vocalists. His voice is put to good use throughout the songs and he has enough variety in his delivery to keep interest while still having a consistency that helps anchor the music’s more extravagant tendencies.

This is a very impressive album from a talented band. The songs are well-written and performed by veterans who are at the height of their game. If you take bands as diverse as Gorguts, Between the Buried and Me, Soilent Green, Death and The Faceless, mash them all up and condense them into 46 minutes of controlled mayhem, you’ll end up with A Maze of Recycled Creeds.

Priceless.

Praise the Flame – Manifest Rebellion (Review)

Praise the FlamePraise the Flame are a Death Metal band from Chile. This is their début album.

This is uncompromising Death Metal with both a Thrash Metal and a Black Metal edge. It’s a murky, Old-School affair that’s ferocious and brutal but still retains a cohesive songwriting aesthetic geared towards worshipping the old Metal gods.

Deathly growls are pitch-black and cavernous. The singer sounds rough and nasty.

The music’s Death Metal core is barbarous and it’s good to see the Thrash Metal influence ramp things up a notch in the energy levels of the songs. The Black Metal influence is a bit more subtle and manifests in the air of darkness and occult evil that the songs exude.

It pleases me that they’re not just a one-trick pony either, with a decent amount of variation and pacing in the songwriting.

Like something old and ancient dredged up from lost memories, Praise the Flame have created 45 minutes of music that sounds sinister and harsh.

Enjoyable and atavistic, Manifest Rebellion does its job nicely. Prepare to rebel.

Maïeutiste – Maïeutiste (Review)

maieutisteThis is the début album from Maïeutiste, who are a French Black Metal band.

This is a long one – 76 minutes of Black Metal that’s grim, mysterious and not afraid to experiment and stretch the tenets of the genre.

Maïeutiste is infused with a playful experimentalism involving elements of Doom, Jazz and Progressive Rock. Traditional Black Metal is the core of their sound though, so don’t mistake this for a free-form, substance-free exploration of whatever the band feel like; instead we simply get Black Metal that adds to, and spreads out from, the core of the style, like a grand contagion.

The music sweeps like a cloak of darkness and the performance is varied and interesting. One moment you could be listening to misery-drenched Depressive Black Metal, and the next you could be listening to a stirring, epic refrain akin to the best that Viking metal has to offer. This is one example of many and demonstrates the talent and ability of Maïeutiste.

It still sounds coherent though, which is an important factor when considering a band like this. It doesn’t sound all-over-the-place and it’s not too varied as to make you wonder how it all fits together; under the darkened funeral moon of Black Metal, that’s how, as this makes up the bulk of the material here.

It’s a long and involving album, but ultimately a rewarding one. Check out Maïeutiste and see if it hits that spot for you.

Formicarius – Lake of the Dead (Review)

FormicariusFormicarius are a Black Metal band from the UK. This is their first release.

Here we have almost 12 minutes of music, made up of two originals and an Emperor cover. Formicarius’ Black Metal is Symphonic, Old-School and dark. Harking back to an early era when bands like Cradle of Filth, Emperor, Dimmu Borgir and Emperor were still young, Formicarius are attempting to herald a return to such times.

Featuring veterans of the UK Metal scene, (including the guitarist of the excellent De Profundis), this is a band who are starting out from a very strong position, so although this is only their first release it very much sounds like they have been together for a lot longer.

The songs have a streamlined darkness that flows and winds around the ostentatious keyboards like vines trying to strangle the life from something. The grim music pulses against the throat of the bright orchestration but doesn’t dampen its enthusiasm. Indeed, it seems spurned on by its antagonistic partnership to even greater heights.

One thing that was largely missing from this style back in the day was guitar solos, so I’m pleased that these make a brief appearance here. Played well, the music in general is accomplished and enjoyable. The songs are relatively simple homages to the Old-School Symphonic Black Metal style, (a bit of a mouthful), that are well-written and perfromed by people who clearly know what they’re doing.

Although there is a good helping of nostalgia with music such as this, (very much so for me), this is still a band who are doing their best to bring the style into the modern age. Admittedly, there’s only so much of this which can be done before changing the music into something else entirely, but on Lake of the Dead it’s the small touches here and there that give the band a certain edge; a short melody, a certain riff or keyboard addition…it distinguishes them as a band who are from the here and now, regardless of how old a style it is that they play and clearly love.

And the Emperor cover is fucking great, too.

12:00 minutes of quality. Get it.