Blade of Horus – Monumental Massacre (Review)

Blade of HorusBlade of Horus are an Australian Death Metal band and this is their début EP.

Now I don’t know about you, but with a name like Blade of Horus and furnished with the kind of exotic album cover that Monumental Massacre has, I have certain expectations of the band before I even hear a note.

At 22 minutes in length, this is a decent intro to the band and definitely leaves me wanting to hear more in the future.

Growls, shrieks and pig-squeals are the order of business for their vocalist, with the band sounding like they’re whipping him to ever greater heights of fury and devotion with every beat of the drum and pluck of the string.

The band combine brutality and technicality with some minor Deathcore influences to produce short and succinct tracks that go straight for the throat, yet also have enough about them to take the time to consider alternative ways of improving their murderous assault.

The songs are brutal enough to absolutely slay, but technical and complex enough to add a certain level of restrained chaos and further depth to the band’s impressive noise. Interesting riffs and ideas are showcased easily, and there’s a fair amount of stuff going on here despite the short length. Huge chugging riffs in the style of Dying Fetus effortlessly share space with complicated guitar-widdling the likes of Nile would be proud of.

Extra impressive is their ability to add in small sections of atmosphere into these crowded tracks, allowing them the space to incorporate melody and mood into the music, to great effect.

All of this helps create the impression of a band who really do have a lot to offer the discerning Metal fan.

So here we have another band who have seemingly come out of nowhere to impressively crush listeners everywhere with their enjoyable take on Extreme Metal.

Expectations met. Expectations exceeded, in fact.

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Absolution – Temptations of the Flesh (Review)

AbsolutionThis is the first EP from UK Death Metallers Absolution.

Having first formed in 1991, with a demo in 1992, this début EP is well overdue. This is Death Metal played with a love of the old-school, tempered by those who were there at the time and birthed into the present with a passion for the style.

These three tracks are song-based and take the time to select the most suitable riffs and beats for the music, rather than focusing purely on speed, technicality or anything else. The music gives the impression that a lot of consideration has gone into it.

Boasting a satisfyingly gritty production, this is on the rawer side than a lot of the more polished bands out there these days, but not so raw as to harm the impact of the music. I particularly like the drum sound and the drumming in general; it also makes me quite nostalgic, although I can’t quite put my finger on why, oddly.

The singer has a charismatic bark and draws out his screams quite nicely in addition to the more clipped shouts.

A short, enjoyable re-introduction to the Death Metal scene for the band; hopefully we’ll hear more from them in the future.

Omnihility – Dominion of Misery (Review)

OmnihilityThis is the third album from US Technical Death Metal band Omnihility.

Their second album Deathscapes of the Subconscious stuck out in my mind for it’s complex blend of technicality and brutality, and this newest release follows the same path.

After an extremely atmospheric intro track that does absolutely nothing to prepare you for the coming onslaught, (although it is pretty damn good), Omnihility start as they mean to go on with ultra-technical Death Metal that doesn’t slack in the brutality department at all.

These songs are complex and punishing, pushing the extremes of the style to the limit, all the time demonstrating virtuoso playing and a keen eye for intelligent butchery.

The blast beats and double bass are physical enough to knock you down while the guitars attempt to play ALL OF THE NOTES AT THE SAME TIME. It’s a testament to the band’s ability that it’s not just one horrendous mess; instead we get well-thought out Technical Death Metal that hits all of the right spots.

Of course, once you get past my exaggerations in the previous paragraph, (only a bit…), Omnihility aren’t quite as insanely chaotic as some bands that play this style. The core brutality of the band keeps things from going too off the rails and there are enough simpler, heavier, groovier riffs plugged into the chaos here and there to make for songs that stay focused on the task at hand – ripping your face off.

Similar to the intro, there’s a break for the listener to catch their breath mid-album, with the track Within Shadows, which once again showcases the band’s atmospheric side.

The singer’s gruff, guttural growl continues to bounce like reflected lightning off the supersonic riffs, barking out from the music at a high speed. His is a very satisfying growl and one that allows the listener a constant focal point amidst the changing tides of rampant guitars and light speed drumming.

Phew. After 42 minutes off this you’ll need a sit down and a stiff drink.

Highly recommended.

The Mild – Left to Starve (Review)

The MildThe Mild are a Grindcore band from Italy. This is their début EP.

Here we have just under 11 minutes of grinding Hardcore action. It’s sharp, nasty and liable to leave cuts.

The vocals are high pitched screams that sound absolutely scathing. The singer sounds pissed and I suspect he’s not entirely happy about something.

Each song rips along at a fair old pace, slowing down occasionally to mop up any listeners who somehow think they can get away without a good ear-bashing.

The fact that the band feel comfortable adding in some slower and mid-paced sections around the speedy main bits in such short tracks is welcome. This makes for a release that’s nicely differentiated and willing to think about pacing and not just the next fast part.

When they take their collective feet off the accelerator their Hardcore influences shine through and I can imagine them being really enjoyable live; high energy and blasting aggression clearly go well together.

Most enjoyable. Well done chaps!

Interview with Communal Grave

Communal Grave Logo

Communal Grave’s recently released début album Solace in Violencia is chock full of melodic Death Metal with absolutely bowel-loosening vocals and a decent Thrash influence. I caught up with frontman Jamail to dig a bit deeper into the history of the band…

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

Hello Nigel I hope you are well, I’m Jamail Rafi the main man of Communal Grave. I do vocals, bass, lyrics and songwriting for the band.

Give us a bit of background to Communal Grave

We started back in 2006 in Karachi, Pakistan. It started with 5 guys but now only I, Nabeel (Guitars) and Asas (Drums) are the one carrying the metal movement forward. In the start we had no idea what to sound like; we just wanted to play metal. I remember our main influence was Pantera. We tried so hard to sound like Pantera in the beginning but fell on our collective asses (Haha). So naturally we gravitated towards a sound which combined Death Metal and Thrash Metal which came naturally to us. We made a song called “Anomaly” which became sort of like the anthem of the Karachi Underground. I remember everyone used to sing the song along with us and it was a time where bands didn’t do originals here. We played in the Karachi underground scene from 2006-2009 but after a while the gigs became scarce and the whole scene became a joke. We took a really long break after that and now are back to unleash our fury hehe.

What are your influences?

My influences are mainly 80s US/ German Thrash and a lot of Old School Swedish Death Metal, Swedish Thrash and the Gothenberg scene bands. Bolt Thrower, Hail of Bullets, Testament, Megadeth, Slayer, Kreator, Entombed, Dismember, Grave, Bloodbath, Unleashed, At the Gates, Arch Enemy (stigmata and burning bridges still kicks ass to this day!), Darkane, The Haunted, Carnal Forge etc. The list is really long but I have a deep affection for the nation of Sweden when it comes to metal.

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

Well last night I was streaming Brujeria live at hellfest 2012, it kicked mighty ass! Currently listening to Bloodbath – Grand Morbid Funeral, Firespawn – Shadow Realms, Insision – Terminal Reckoning, Bold Thrower – Those Once Loyal (a fucking classic).

communal grave band

How do you feel that you fit into the wider Metal scene?

As far as the whole metal scene is concerned, there are so many bands now that it’s easy to get lost in the abyss. But I would like to keep the focus on changing the Metal landscape of my own country and be a strong inspiration for the non-existent metal community here. I want Communal Grave to be a strong metal band to represent Pakistan.

Give us a bit of background to Solace in Violencia – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?

We started working on the album back in 2008 or 09 but went on a hiatus. The album has a loose concept to it but it does not extend to the whole of the album. “The Killing of the Kings/ all of Monarchy” is the concept that I incorporated into the album. The Last Gasp of the Beardsman is about Saddam Hussein. Tormentor of Agonopolis is about Idid Amin Dada. Heavy Lies the Crown is about Bahadur Shah Zafar (Mughal Empire). The Protruding Tomb is about Peter Ludwig von der Pahlen and the assassination of Paul I of Russia.

Tell us about the album artwork

The artwork was done by me. It shows an amputated corpse suspended in mid-air in a black hole with the black hole/emptiness still eating and feeding off of him.

How do you go about writing your songs?

Well I write constantly. Sometimes an interesting riff comes to me then I start writing the progression of that riff and take the whole writing from there. Once the song is musically created I attach an idea behind it and write the lyrics. I ponder a lot on musical arrangements and the arrangement of different parts in the song. Being a sole songwriter on the band, it definitely has a draining effect on you but nonetheless a very satisfying experience too.

How did the recording process go?

It did not go very smoothly. I experimented a lot with different mics, different distortions, bass amplifiers to find the right sound. As I am the producer on the record I had to make sure that the sound is not comprised in any way. It took me 2-3 months just to find the right sound for this particular record. Juggling a day job and then recording on my free time.

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

Heavy Lies the Crown because whenever we have played it live the crowd goes fucking nuts. It always becomes a pit of moshing chaos. The energy it channels the audience is just amazing.

What does the future hold for Communal Grave?

As for me I’m already working with my homie Nabeel’s band called Cardinal Sin which is a sister band of ours so be sure to check out Cardinal Sin’s début this year! And already working on Communal Grave’s follow-up full-length called “Preacher of Darkness” due to be out in 2017. So stay tuned and thanks for this wonderful interview Nigel.

The Body – No One Deserves Happiness (Review)

The BodyThis is the fifth album from US Sludge band The Body.

This is a complex album with a multifaceted, layered sound. The Body are not your average band and consequently No One Deserves Happiness is not your average album.

Industrial Sludge Metal is an apt description of the band’s output, although this barely describes the monstrous creation that the band have unleashed on the world with this work.

Electronics and Metal meet in a way that is fused at the very core of the music, revealing a collaboration that you might never think possible. Certainly it’s out of reach of the talent of most bands who attempt to combine electronics and guitars.

This is an album full of bleakness, isolation and despair. The sense of melancholy and hateful abandonment is strong, with the music absolutely reeking of complex negative emotions and the utter failure of all human contact.

Harsh, needle-thin vocals are sometimes joined by ethereal female cleans, which ratchet up the emotional content to almost unbearable levels.

This is a hard album to describe in many ways; although there is a massive amount of things going on here, it’s more the emotional resonance of the music that’s difficult. No One Deserves Happiness seems to easily and swiftly evoke all of the feelings of negativity, discomfort and nostalgic loss that you’ve experienced your entire life. It’s an extremely powerful listen because of this and at the end of its 48 minute journey you feel hollow and spent.

After listening to this, it’s hard to disagree with the album name.

 

Ande – Licht (Review)

AndeAnde is a Black Metal solo project from Belgium. This is his début release.

With each song separated by a short atmospheric interlude, we get three actual songs that evoke the original Black Metal template with a atmospheric and emotive sheen.

The music has good riffs, good atmosphere and tasty screams. It’s a short but enjoyable release that lets the listener wallow in the blackened depths of an atavistic style.

Old-school and obscure, this will likely be overlooked by most fans of the style, which is a real shame as Licht is an extremely satisfying listen. This strikes all of the right notes and moods without feeling stale or done-to-death.

The songs have a relatively good degree of variety between them and the interludes all work well to provide an unusual atmosphere between the blackened abysses that the songs create. I prefer the slower, more atmospheric sections over the faster ones, but the faster ones are still very well done.

The recording is well pitched, with just the right mixture of clarity and rawness that a release like this deserves.

I really enjoyed this.

Product of Hate – Buried in Violence (Review)

Product of HateThis is the début album from US Metal band Product of Hate.

Product of Hate play modern Metal that incorporates elements of Thrash Metal and Metalcore into its makeup. This equates to some noticeable influences from the classic style, notably Kreator and Testament, as well as the more modern Metalcore style that was made so popular by the NWOAHM bands of the 00s. More European aspects appear sometimes too, reminding me of some of Darkane’s work on occasion.

Reading the above though it’s important to realise a few things; this is no retro-loving crap-fest; this is darker and harder than a lot of the more commercial bands playing a similar style; there are no radio-friendly unit shifters with sparkling clean vocals here – Product of Hate go in for the kill with all the aggression that they can muster.

Buried in Violence is a bit rough around the edges, but I think that’s the intent. You could easily imagine the busy riffs and even busier solos encased in a solid gold, ultra-polished production, but this is not the case; they have a large sound that suits the style, but it’s grittier and more earthy than most. This allows the band to get their hands dirty and focus on tearing things up with their assault.

The songs are quite catchy and memorable without being overly so; the band sound like they have tried to pen real songs that they are passionate about rather than one-dimensional sing-along, throwaway hits. This is all down to perspective, of course, and I can easily imagine Product of Hate getting written off by some as being just another Metalcore band with nothing to offer. This is a disservice I feel, but a somewhat inevitable one; it’s a shame as there are more than enough bands peddling the more commercial side of this kind of music, whereas Product of Hate are offering something a bit harder and more aggressive than most. Sure, it’s not Death Metal and it definitely exists on the more commercial side of the Metal spectrum, (relatively speaking, when compared to the more extreme end of Metal), but this is not the kind of thing you’ll hear on the radio any time soon.

Ultimately, Buried in Violence shows a band who clearly love their Metal and gathers together a collection of Metal anthems that just want to Thrash out and give the listener a good tune and a good bashing at the same time.

Oh, there’s also an Ozzy Osbourne cover.

Can’t complain about that.

Fleshgod Apocalypse – King (Review)

Fleshgod ApocalypseThis is the fourth album from this Italian Death Metal juggernaut.

If you haven’t encountered Fleshgod Apocalypse before, apart from having an extremely striking band name, they play an exciting and intriguing blend of symphonic and brutal Death Metal that has few peers and really does get the juices flowing.

There’s a lot of content on this release, lasting almost an hour in total. Now fully embracing their Classical influences, the songs on King merge both symphonic and Extreme Metal worlds in ways that very few bands could pull off. Septic Flesh, Therion and a handful of others are in the same league, but for outright speed and brutality combined with Classical influences, none really come close to Fleshgod Apocalypse, none that I’ve heard at any rate.

This is high operatic art, as applied to the realm of Extreme Metal. With a bombastic production the band’s compositions are nuanced and subtle, all hiding behind a ostentatious veneer of brutal Metal. Strength and power are exemplified on these tracks.

The deep growling vocals keep the aggressive elements at the forefront of their sound, while the soaring cleans make for uplifting and powerful additions. These clean vocals masterfully avoid the commercially-tinged climes of bands that usually incorporate them into an Extreme Metal framework and instead allow them to enhance and merge with the busy, complex music. Operative female cleans also appear in places, further impressing.

The symphonic elements are ubiquitous and relentless, providing an epic backdrop onto which the Metal is writ large. This is more than just one style being added to the other though, as the merging appears to take place at the cellular level, with both styles embracing each other. In places this even verges on the kind of symphonic territory that certain strains of Heavy/Power Metal have occupied so well over the years.

All of this on its own would be impressive enough, but the real test of longevity is the quality of the songs. After all, if it was all flashy style and no substance, then sure it would sound impressive on first listen, but it would soon get old. All of this is, I suppose, a rather long-winded way of saying that the songs are well-written in addition to everything else, and it is this more than anything else that will allow King to pass the test of time and multiple listens. These songs work, and work very well.

King demonstrates a band at the peak of their creative powers in many ways, and it will be interesting to see what paths they tread in the future. I personally hope they take the Classical/operatic angle even further and become even more epic in scope. We’ll see. For now though, King is a suitably majestic release for something that bears such an appellation, one that I insist you listen to as soon as you can.

Essential.