Exterminas – Dichotomy (Review)

ExterminasExterminas are from Italy. They play Black Metal and this is their second album.

Dichotomy is 40 minutes of Orthodox Black Metal that’s fast, aggressive and venomous.

Exterminas have managed to inject a decent amount of atmosphere and melody into this release without watering down their inherent aggression or hatred. It’s a great combination to hear, as the razor-sharp guitars do what they need to for the songs; strike out in deadly haste, pull back in contemplative readiness or soar up high with colourful grace.

The singer’s dark growls are full of malice and the music backs his sentiments up to the hilt. He’s probably channelling pure evil through his throaty delivery, but whatever he’s doing it works as a brutal counterpoint to the sleek, sharp songs.

Featuring a great combination of speed and malignant groove, Exterminas certainly know their stuff and Dichotomy is a well-wrounded and complete Black Metal effort.

A strong sound cements the package, giving the band the base of power needed to propel the songs higher without compromising the integrity or feel of the underground aesthetic.

Very highly recommended. Cult Black Metal with a bit of personality and plenty of style. Seek this out.

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Eternal Black – Eternal Black (Review)

Eternal BlackThis is the début EP from US Doom/Stoner band Eternal Black.

Eternal Black play Traditional Doom Metal, (à la Saint Vitus), filtered through a filthy lens and incorporating an influence from bands like Down, Corrosion of Conformity, Orange Goblin and a touch of Eyehategod in the riffs.

The songs pass by with a pleasant rumbling and a companionable fuzzy delivery. The singer’s measured drawl is familiar enough to be enticing, but individual enough to carry off.

With decent grooves and an ear for a good riff, these three songs are over before you realise, despite each lasting about 5-6 minutes each.

A good, earthy sound that’s not too polished breathes life into the tracks, and all of the instruments are clear enough to be heard.

The songs are catchy, memorable and enjoyable. What more is there to say, really?

Recommended.

Sanzu – Heavy over the Home (Review)

SanzuThis is the début album from Australian Modern Progressive Death Metallers Sanzu.

We’ve met Sanzu’s Gojira/Morbid Angel-inspired work before on their Painless EP, where they proved themselves to be an energetic and highly-promising addition to the world of Extreme Metal.

On Heavy over the Home Sanzu continue to develop their influences into something even more personable than previously. Although you can still readily identify the Gojira in their sound, for example, they’ve taken ownership of this even more than on their EP and Heavy over the Home is a force to be reckoned with.

It’s also a heavy force, as I suspect this word is used deliberately in the album title. Sanzu do heavy very well indeed. It’s hard to do your own thing when heavily influenced, (pun intended…), by such a recognisably distinctive band such as Gojira, but Sanzu have risen to the challenge by embracing their Morbid Angel-esque Death Metal side even further on this release, meaning that we end up with a kind of Gojira-gone-Death-Metal sort of album. This accomplishes two things; it allows the band to go their own way and make their sound much more their own, and also it sounds absolutely great.

Twisting, rolling rhythms and punishing grooves seem to trample and flatten from above, and the band’s melodic sensibilities, developed though they are, seem utterly incapable of blunting this crushing heaviosity. We wouldn’t have it any other way, of course.

The 45 minutes of music on this album allow the band to spread their wings and develop much further than on their first EP, and it’s very pleasing to see Sanzu metamorphosing into something more than their influences, something they can be proud to call their own.

In an utterly crushing display of super-heavy Death Metal, Sanzu destroy the opposition with ease and leave us with a top-quality album to enjoy in the smouldering ruins of what came before.

I’ll be playing this on heavy rotation from now on, that’s for sure. I advise you do too.

Bedowyn – Blood of the Fall (Review)

BedowynThis is the début album from US Metal band Bedowyn.

Bedowyn’s sound is a mix of the contemporary and classic, combining Metal, Stoner, Doom and Alternative Metal into a 49 minute adventure. Corrosion of Conformity meets Mastodon is not too bad of a description, but that’s only a starting point really.

The problem with the majority of bands that get compared to Mastodon in any way is because of the nature of Mastodon, most of these bands just sound derivative and trite; I’m pleased to say that this isn’t the case with Bedowyn, as they may remind of Mastodon in places but there’s more than enough other influences, all infused with the band’s own personality, to make it merely one reference of many.

The band certainly have the songwriting skill to back up these lofty comparisons and Blood of the Fall is rammed full of explosive tunes and outright anthems.

Using lively drums, spirited guitars and even the odd synth, Bedowyn pound through the playing time with enthusiasm and enough depth to make repeat plays mandatory.

The singer has a charismatic and well-used voice that treads just the right line between rough and silken. He clearly knows what he’s doing and adds further layers to music that’s already multi-faceted and rich.

This is a top quality album that shines through with quality songs and catchiness.

Definitely check this one out.

Blackhour – Sins Remain (Review)

BlackhourBlackhour are a Heavy Metal band from Pakistan and this is their second album.

This is an album that embraces what True Heavy Metal is all about; attitude, passion, songcraft and pure, molten delivery.

The singer has a very good voice that carries weight and authority with it, as well as being able to bang out decent harmonies and memorable melodies.

The music is Classic Heavy Metal, frequently stretched out to epic proportions across these 5 songs. The classic Metal flavour is added to by some more modern influences too; for example, if you take a band like Iron Maiden as a good starting point for comparison, Blackhour take influence from a wide swathe of Iron Maiden’s work, both old and new. This isn’t the only band they can be compared to though, as they’re certainly not Iron Maiden rip-offs. There’s more going on here than just that.

These are well-written songs that are played by people who know their way around their instruments intimately. Importantly though it’s the songs that matter and the band have a good grasp of what makes a decent Heavy Metal tune. The involving riffs and dynamic pacing of the songs work with the singer’s impressive vocals to create songs that stick in the mind long after the last chord has faded.

And there’s solos. Lots of them.

Quality stuff, and very enjoyable. Check this out and show your support.

Pronostic – An Atomic Decision (Review)

PronosticPronostic are a Canadian Death Metal band and this is their début album.

Pronostic’s take on Death Metal features elements of both the Technical and Melodic styles, resulting in an album of precise drumming, exact guitars and clipped, brutal vocals, all wrapped up in emotive riffs and serrated melodies.

With two members taking care of the vocals, we get an interesting and busy mix of growls and screams, working together and competing for space to tear your face off.

The songs have enough technicality and widdling solos to please fans of the crazy extremity that TechDeath offers, but this is restrained by the melodic sensibilities that remember that it’s also important to have this set to the framework of an actual song. There are plenty of good riffs too, and the band know an emotive lead when they hear one.

With good ideas, enough skill to carry them off and a nice chunky sound, this is a very enjoyable release. There’s a lot of content and the delivery is high-powered and energetic. The best way I can think to describe them is to imagine All Shall Perish without any of the Deathcore.

Pronostic have impressed. Give this one a spin.

Of Spire & Throne – Sanctum in the Light (Review)

Of Spire & ThroneOf Spire & Throne are a UK Doom band and this is their début album.

Having enjoyed their previous work, (Toll of the Wound, for example), it’s about time we had a full-length release from this colossal Doom band.

Yes, colossal is the right word, as Of Spire & Throne specialise in dirty great huge Doom with an oppressively dark atmosphere and a morbid pace.

The 4 tracks on this release crawl by as the 54 minutes is taken up by malevolent Doom that has a filthy Sludge underbelly. There’s also a bit of Ambient/Drone/Noise thrown in here and there for good measure.

Sanctum of the Light contains music that does a lot with a little. There’s nothing fancy or flashy here, quite the opposite in fact; this is a band that achieves what they need to with a minimalist approach that still sees them sound louder and fuller than a band with twice the members, (they’re a three-piece).

This simplistic approach works well as the songs have a raw honesty to them that allows an emotional intensity to be fostered in the bowels of these despairing paeans to negativity. Simply put – the band know how to write good Doom.

This is a release that draws you in with the promise of crushing Doom and keeps you close in its suffocating embrace by providing music that has more than enough depth to drown in.

As I’ve said before – like Doom? Like Of Spire & Throne.

Ende – The Rebirth of I (Review)

EndeEnde are a French Black Metal band and this is their second album.

This is traditionally-styled Black Metal that is both raw and atmospheric, creating frozen soundscapes with an effective use of dark melodies and icy riffs.

The vocals howl out from the frosted wind, screaming with venomous diatribes and foul incantations. The singer’s voice has a wonderfully liquid sharpness to it that flows alongside the fluidity of the music very well.

The sound is perfectly judged; the right combination of raw fragility and distorted power. Combined with the effortlessly mood-driven riffs these songs easily transport the listener to lands full of coldness and pain. Which is what we want, obviously.

As Black Metal goes this is up there with the best of them really. Black Metal is a multi-faceted and constantly evolving beast, but sometimes you just want a quality dose of the classic Blackened style done extremely well, and Ende do this better than most. The added emotive, atmospheric aspects of the grim guitar melodies simply cement Ende as having more to offer than the average purveyor of this style.

Highly recommended.

Dolven – Navigating the Labyrinth (Review)

DolvenDolven are from the US and this is their début album.

Dolven are an unusual proposition. They play acoustic Neo-Folk Doom. That’s right; unusual and unexpected, but it works. Electric guitars are used, but only for solos, and only very sparingly.

With only three songs having vocals, this is a largely instrumental release. It’s designed to be expansive and atmospheric, juxtaposing the beautiful with the terrible darkness of existence. Grand claims I know, but once again, it works.

This is not the kind of music you idly throw on when you’re getting ready to go out, (unless you’re of a particular mindset, of course), rather it’s the kind of release that demands more attention from you. This is not hastily-consumed, throwaway music; this is music that has depth and soul, insofar as anything can be said to.

These tracks have both a lightness and heaviness to them, a sideline of the eternal war between light and dark, pointlessness and meaningfulness. It’s a surprisingly emotive journey through 42 minutes, one that reminds just how expressive acoustic guitars can actually be in the right hands. The thing which springs to mind as I listen to this is Scream of the Butterfly by Acid Bath, which is one Hell of a compliment as that’s one Hell of a song.

When they do appear, the vocals are deep and mournful, emphasizing the Doom aspect of the slow, thoughtful music.

This is an album that’s unexpectedly enticing, drawing you in with its veiled charms into a world of almost-medieval Neo-Folk, all translated through the lens of Doom Metal and re-transcribed into acoustic interpretations that carry the weight of influence from its former incarnations into what is ultimately its final form – Navigating the Labyrinth.

Fed up of the same old thing and looking for something a bit different? If so, in many ways this is as impressive and essential as it gets.

Cerebric Turmoil – Neural Net Meltdown (Review)

Cerebric TurmoilCerebric Turmoil are a German Death Metal band and this is their début album.

Cerebric Turmoil are a Technical Death Metal band and then some. Mix in a nasty amount of brutality with the insanity and you get an album that screams its intentions from the top of its deliciously aggressive lungs, in ways you’ve probably never imagined before.

Think of a maniacal cross between Cephalic Carnage, Obscura, Wormed, Cryptopsy and Psycroptic. Yes, it’s time for unhinged, futuristic, alien-spawned TechDeath craziness!

I don’t like using words such as crazy to describe music, but this really is something special. It’s a controlled, well-thought out craziness, of course, but still; it’s a wild ride and you have to be a certain type of Extreme Metal fan not to get knocked over by it.

You’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next. It’s a chaotic mélange of brutality, technicality and free-form madness that nonetheless retains enough cohesiveness to not venture completely off the rails.

The production complements the band’s mayhem well, allowing every fully-utilised instrument to be heard throughout the crashing din. I love an album where you can not only hear the bass but it makes a valuable contribution, and on Neural Net Meltdown, (an apt name if ever there was one), the bass definitely has its own character and presence. The same of which can be said of every instrument.

And the vocals? Almost as varied as the music. We get shouted growls as the main form of assault, backed up by almost every other kind you an imagine – growls, pigsqueals, screams, and most things in between.

Songs like these are hard to describe, you just need to hear them really. It’s Death Metal technicality taken to a certain extreme. It’s remarkably individual and delightfully memorable; listening to Cerebric Turmoil means you know you’ve been listening to Cerebric Turmoil. This is not your average band.

Loved it. What’s more to say?