Pogavranjen – Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem (Review)

PogavranjenPogavranjen are a Croatian avant-garde Post-Black Metal band and this is their third album.

Pogavranjen are one of many Post-Black Metal bands who are not content with the base genre and are intent on pushing boundaries and experimenting with the genre to help them get to the sound they want. In this case, this means twisting the core style in avant-garde, progressive, jazz and psychedelic ways, mutating it into the end result on Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem.

In addition to the standard instruments, the band use keyboards, synths, trumpets and trombones to achieve their vision. All of these are well-played and the musicians clearly know what they’re doing, whether it’s playing more straightforward parts, more involved, jazz-inspired free-form chaos, or building atmosphere with grim intent.

Coming across as a curious mix of Ephel Duath, Arcturus, Manes and Solefald, the band spend 45 minutes building up intricate and textured soundscapes, taking the listener on a compelling journey into the abyss.

The vocals mainly consist of well-performed cleans that are full of presence and an authoritarian charisma. They immediately catch the attention and provide a focal point while the music travels down multiple paths of darkened delights.

Jedva Čekam Da Nikad Ne Umrem is a real slow-burner of an album, requiring multiple listens to truly give up its secrets, and even then it keeps some back, jealous of its esoteric knowledge. It’s worth the effort though, as Pogavranjen’s avant-garde stylings are definitely on the right-side of quirky and this album is full of impressive sounds and moods.

Recommended.

Advertisements

The Unguided – Lust and Loathing (Review)

The UnguidedThis is the third album from Swedish Metallers The Unguided.

The Unguided play melodic Death Metal mixed in with modern Metal, soaring cleans and infectious keyboards. It’s a style which has been done before, proven to be effective and is definitely on the more commercial end of the Metal spectrum. If that sounds like an implied negative, it would be if it was done poorly, but Lust and Loathing isn’t and is in fact a very enjoyable listen.

Full of stadium-friendly hooks and bold melodies, this is catchy and unashamedly memorable. One of things I really like about this release is that it’s closer to the Euro-Metal side of things than the US Metalcore-style, meaning that we get a lot of proper Metal content. There’s even some solos. Combined with the heaviness of the guitars, the ubiquitous harsh vocals and a high-energy delivery, this album has a thoroughly Metal core and doesn’t suffer from being overly-commercial or sanitized as a lot of similar bands can be afflicted with; there’s a fire and a passion here beneath the polished veneer.

The songs are enjoyable and catchy, as mentioned previously. The melodic Power Metal streak that the tracks have saves them from sounding generic and there’s a real flavour of the band in the songs, pulling them up to be highly effective modern European Metal bruisers with a strong melodic edge.

A lot of the time this kind of thing ends up having style over substance, but in this instance it seems that The Unguided have both.

Recommended.

Entropia – Ufonaut (Review)

EntropiaThis is the second album from Polish Post-Black Metal band Entropia.

As a firm fan of their stellar début album Vesper, Ufonaut is long-awaited and well-received.

In Entropia, Progressive Metal and Post-Metal meet a fiery Black Metal heart; combined together they take the airwaves by storm and Ufonaut’s blackened blend of atmosphere, shoegaze, Post-Rock and psychedelia is a hit.

Heavier and darker than its predecessor, Ufonaut is a more mature beast to an already forward-thinking début. On the whole the songs are also shorter and more focused, resulting in an album that knows precisely what it wants to do and goes about doing it with shadowy panache.

High-energy blackened delivery meets more depressive, introspective moments. As the songs progress there’s more and more to get lost in as the band build momentum and atmosphere. Tsunamis of pounding drums and otherworldly synths add to the textures of the songs in places, creating the atmosphere in firm, energetic layers.

With involving and engaging tracks, this is an album that makes the most of its time in the abyss and furnishes the listener with all manner of listening pleasures, so much so that Ufonaut is a real embarrassment of riches in some ways.

After waiting three years for their second album I have not been disappointed. All hail Entropia!

Interview with Abyssus

Abyssus Logo

Abyssus have been taking the underground old-school Death Metal scene by storm in recent years, culminating in their début album Into the Abyss and their recent compilation Once Entombed…. Fast becoming one of my favourite old-school Death Metal bands, I wanted to know more about these Greek death-dealers…

For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!

Greetings!! I am Panos Gkourmpaliotis, the guitarist of Abyssus, an old school death metal band from Greece. Abyssus formed in 2011 by the vocalist Kostas Analytis, just to glorify the Metal of Death!!! I entered the band in 2012 and Kostas Ragiadakos (bass) joined us in 2015. Abyssus is just our passion for 80s and 90s Death/Thrash Metal.

Give us a bit of background to Abyssus

After the release of our first EP “Monarch to the Kingdom of the Dead” (2011) it was about time for the band to have a solid line up. We played some live shows and we recorded a few split releases (No Life in the Coffin with legendary Nocturnal Vomit in 2013 , “From the Abyss Raised the Morbid” with mighty Morbider in 2014 and “Obscure” with Slaktgrav in 2014). The songs included in the split with Morbider were remixed and remastered because we were completely disappointed with the sound of that release. The result was “Summon the Dead” in 2014 , an EP released only on tape. For many years we were giving final form to our style. In 2015 we entered Unreal Studios, one of the best studios in Athens and we recorded our début album entitled “Into the Abyss” (released in 2015 via Memento Mori) and some split releases that already came in 2016 and some others that will follow soon.

What are your influences?

Our influences are all those epic bands from 80s and 90s that served old school Metal with respect and passion. Bands like Bolt Thrower, Death, Asphyx, Autopsy, Obituary, Possessed, Massacre, Benediction, Death Strike, Cancer, Slayer, Sodom, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost, Venom, Bathory.

Abyssus BandWhat are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?

This period am listening to Rapture’s début album called “Crimes Against Humanity” and “Ways of Enclosure” by Dementia 13. Both are great albums! Don’t forget to bang your heads with “Exterminate!! Annihilate! Destroy! by Down Among The Dead Men. Hail to Dave Ingram , one of the best Death Metal vocalists ever!!!! Bow to none!!!!

Give us a bit of background to Once Entombed… – as a collection of your older work, how did this release come about?

Memento Mori and Κunal of Transcending Obscurity cooperate on album promotions. So we met him! Transcending Obscurity celebrates with us and honours our first days with “Once Entombed…”, a compilation that shows the evolution of the band through the years. Most of our early releases are difficult to find, so it is a good opportunity for someone who wants to get in touch with that stuff. So far our collaboration with Transcending Obscurity has been more than excellent. Kunal is a metal maniac and we couldn’t be more satisfied with the result !!!

How do you go about writing your songs – has this changed over time?

Me and Kostas Analytis write our own stuff and then we shall get in touch to play to each other the new ideas.. We are partners in crime!! Until “Summon the dead” Kostas Analytis was the main composer of the band and I had less responsibility on that material. That was something that changed after “Summon the Dead” so to speak , as and I am responsible for the biggest part of “Into the Abyss”.

To me, your EP Monarch to the Kingdom of the Dead is stylistically and sonically different to what came after – what prompted this?

Our first EP “Monarch to the Kingdom of the Dead” released in 2011 and as I talked, when Abyssus began to act was just an one man band. As it is logical Kostas Analytis had a different view from me. But we found a common path somewhere in the middle and this is the so called evolution of Abyssus from “No Life in the Coffin” till now.

What’s your favourite song on your début album and why?

My favorite song off “Into the Abyss” is “Echoes of Desolation”. It’s probably the most “epic” song on the album , so to speak! The one that evokes more emotions and makes you get into a different kind of dimension.

What does the future hold for Abyssus?

Right now we are working on new material! Very soon our début album “Into the Abyss will be released on vinyl format via Floga Records and a 4-way split on 7” vinyl, with Death Courier / Slaughtered Priest / DreamLongDead. Also we’d like to play live our music in the near future , as two years have gone since our last live performance!

And finally – how ace is Death Metal?

After a long time that passed from the glorious 90s, prevailed mediocrity in all genres of metal music!!! As Asphyx said on “Deathhammer”, pollution begins!!!! Decades after, we see the streams of great releases coming out one after another and we are really excited about that. We believe that Death Metal must remain pure and old school as it had begun!! We respect and we admire so many legendary bands that kill again and of course new bands that defend the old sound with passion and true inspiration! Hail true Death Metal.

Impavidus – Impavidus (Review)

ImpavidusImpavidus are a Metal band from the UK. This is their début EP.

Boasting 18 minutes of melodic Death/Thrash/Groove Metal, Impavidus have forcefully arrived on the scene with a decent display of modern Metal.

Taking cues from bands such as Arch Enemy, Carcass, The Agonist, The Haunted, etc., they proceed to play this style better than most bands who are just starting out.

The songs are well-written and enjoyable, and I especially like the more melodic parts featuring clean female vocals. This is somewhat of a rarity for me, as more often than not these kind of sections are my least favourite parts when listening to similar bands’ songs. Impavidus, however, do all of this extremely well and their vocalist has a very good voice, reminding of the singer of Leaves’ Eyes in some ways.

Apart from these cleans, we get Arch Enemy-esque growls, occasionally backed by male shouts. These all work well and the music thrashes along at a good pace, nicely heavy and riffy.

Leads and solos are plentiful and the band aren’t shy about showing off their musical skills. Nor should they be.

It all comes together nicely and Impavidus have produced an impressive EP that’s way better than I was expecting. Why? Simply due to the fact that on paper, this follows a familiar format, one that is easy to be lazy with. The reality, however, is that these songs have high energy, catchiness, obvious passion and melodies that really hit the spot.

Quality stuff.

Greenleaf – Rise Above the Meadow (Review)

GreenleafThis is the sixth album by Swedish Stoner Rock band Greenleaf.

Boasting the kind of album cover that you could lose hours staring at, Greenleaf return with 44 minutes of retro-themed Stoner Rock that’s as easy-going and as compelling as ever.

With a warm, well-rounded sound, Rise Above the Meadow is a very easy album to get along with. The band’s personalities seem to seep from every note and the songs effortlessly send out emotive vibes in a retro-friendly fashion that’s sure to light up many a classic Rock-fan’s eyes.

The singer’s anthemic, charismatic voice resonates with relaxed power and presence, complementing the analogue warmth of the music. Hearty melodies and hummable tunes are in abundance and the band really don’t sound like they’re native to 2016 in many ways.

There are so many good riffs on this album and the band are in no short supply of melodies and evocative catchy sections either.

This is good stuff. For someone who mainly listens to much more extreme music, I sometimes have to be in the mood for this kind of release. However, like a lot of things, when you press play and let the music comfortably roll out of the speakers, it’s all very nice indeed.

Somewhere between The Sword, Clutch, Rival Sons, and even The Beatles in places.

Top work.

Intensive Square – Anything That Moves (Review)

Intensive SquareIntensive Square are a Technical Metal band from the UK. This is their début album.

This is Technical Metal played with a love of both complexity and crushing rhythms. There’s a Hardcore side to the band that’s combined with a firm Metal base, resulting an album that combines elements of such diverse bands as Botch, Converge, Johnny Truant, Meshuggah, Circle Takes the Square, Pyrrhon, Today Is the Day, Scarlet, Frontierer, Sikth, Periphery and many others.

Featuring a splenetic vocalist who has a vicious screamed shout, these songs provide a satisfying ear-bashing while also catering to those who like a bit of technicality and complexity with their beatings. It doesn’t go too far down the complexity route though, as there’s plenty of big rhythms and grooves provided to get the listener moving and jerking around the place in strange movements.

The album lasts 45 minutes and provides a meaty feast for anyone into this kind of thing.

Give them a listen.

Virulency – The Anthropodermic Manuscript of Retribution (Review)

VirulencyThis is the début album from Spanish Brutal Death Metal band Virulency.

I really enjoyed their 2012 début EP, Unbearable Martyrdom Landscapes, so when this much-anticipated début album found its way to me, I knew I had to give it a thorough listening as soon as I could.

First impressions – I like the album cover as it just screams BRUTAL DEATH METAL at the top of its blood-ridden lungs. Nice.

So, delve into the pit of Virulency and what do we get? We get ultra-brutal Death Metal that’s nicely heavy and suitably extreme. This is not the kind of thing that Joe Public would like. At all.

Elements of Grindcore and the slam-Death Metal styles are to be heard scattered throughout these tracks and the relentless hammering of the music definitely hits the spot.

They have retained the tasty sound that they had on their EP, with a satisfying guitar tone and nicely balanced drums. You can even hear the bass, which is always good, especially as it is played well and does some interesting things; it adds a strangely-tense undertone to the music and is a welcome constant companion as you tour these depths of corruption and mutation.

The only real disappointment for me is the vocals, as these appear to have gone a bit more into the realms of pignoise squeals than previously. This is not a vocal style I massively enjoy as when it’s over-used it tends to rob a singer of all of their power when compared to actual growls. To be fair to the singer though, his vocals tread just the right side of ridiculous, and he retains enough vestigial strength in his voice to just about pull it off, which I’m very grateful for. It’s just that, for me, in an ideal world, actual growls would have been so much better. On the odd occasion that growls do appear on these tracks it’s like a filter has been removed and all of a sudden the band are complete. But hey, that’s just my taste.

Overall, slight vocal issues aside, this is still a very satisfyingly brutal 29 minutes, one that I heartily recommend you check out.

Neverworld – Dreamsnatcher (Review)

NeverworldNeverworld are a Power Metal band from the UK. This is their second album.

This is the follow-up to their hugely enjoyable début album Visions of Another World.

Neverworld play their Metal full of leads, solos and lashings of rich melody. The band haven’t lost any of their ability to play, that’s for sure. This is definitely an album for people who enjoy solos, but I like that the technical playing is channelled into the needs of the songs too.

Keyboards add extra atmosphere where needed, but these are never overpowering or overly ostentatious; they do what is required of them, do it well, and don’t stick around unnecessarily.

Atmospheric, catchy, memorable, rocking, progressive – all of these words can be used to describe various parts of these songs and there’s enough quality content to keep the listener engaged.

It’s a pleasure to hear the singer’s voice once more. He remains in possession of a grand and powerful voice, one that’s equal to the task of keeping up with the equally grand and powerful music. He even seems to be developing a slight theatrical bent to his voice in a couple of places.

The songs are varied enough to warrant over an hour of playing time, yet remain cohesive enough to flow nicely and not sound all-over-the-place when it comes to album pacing.

The return of Neverworld is a pleasure to witness.

Primitive Man/Northless – Split (Review)

Primitive Man NorthlessBoth hailing from the US and both peddling versions of Sludge/Doom, this split between Primitive Man and Northless got me quite excited when I first became aware of it.

Primitive Man are up first, and readers of this site should be familiar with them from their previous releases Home Is Where the Hatred Is and Split with Hexis.

They offer a single track, Empty Husk, which is a generous 15 minutes long. In my opinion Primitive Man are one of the best purveyors of hate-fuelled Doom out there, and this track does nothing to change that view.

The band have a thick, heavy, sludgy guitar tone that’s just perfect for the kind of music they play. The huge riffs are claustrophobic crushers that seem to suck the air from the room and replace it with tar.

One of my absolute favourite things about the band is the singer’s voice – his growls are just so perfectly pitch black, so utterly cavernous and without hope, it’s truly frightening.

Empty Husk starts off slow and unfolds drenched in feedback and drum rolls. The dark, Doom-drenched atmosphere is built up and maintained, right until it can’t take any more and spills over into blackened blast beats that soon spend themselves in fits of bubbling hatred, only to slow down to a crawl once more, dragging out the misery and contempt for all to soak in.

Phew.

Northless’ side of the split is a similar length, (17 minutes), but divided into three tracks. Although they’ve never been featured on this site before, their enjoyable brand of Sludge Metal is always a welcome listen.

They’re less-Doom and more Sludge than Primitive Man, which is demonstrated in opener Deleted Heartstrings when it starts with a rip-roaring upbeat tempo that crashes through everything around it in its hurry to spread its dirt.

Theirs is a filthy cacophony of twisted, nightmarish sound that has surely been spawned in some deep, dark abyss somewhere. Northless’ music gives off a very real sense of chaotic suffocation; a controlled chaos that sounds dangerous and is likely to leave scars. The riffs can be quite angular and atypical, with a slight blackened tinge and a surprising level of complexity on occasion.

The singer’s blunt snarls sound callous and almost inhuman, but with just enough uncaring humanity left in to be truly disturbing. He stands aloft, leading the punishing Sludge with unerring vision, firmly set on his grim task of spreading misanthropy.

With each song slowing things down that little bit more than the previous, Northless culminate in their final track Wasted Breath. This is the longest of the three and spends its time building inevitably to a harsh and powerful conclusion.

An exceptional split that showcases the many talents of two of Sludge/Doom’s brightest, (darkest?), lights.

Essential listening for all lovers of hatred, misery and heaviness.