Israthoum – Black Poison and Shared Wounds (Review)

Israthoum

Israthoum play Black Metal and, (since their relocation), come from The Netherlands.

This album has a dark, grim atmosphere powered by the Darkthrone-esque Black Metal and the suitably hateful vocals that are positively dripping with scorn and strength of purpose. This is underground Black Metal played well by people who know the genre inside out.

Speed, aggression and darkness are emphatically delivered by a band who obviously believe in their calling and are passionate about their art. That’s not to say this is purely a blast-a-thon; they do lower the tempo from time to time as the song requires.

Vocals are as you would expect – tortured and blackened; sounds such as no human should be able to make.

Dredging up the darkest of emotions and altered states to deliver a sermon of hatred to an eager flock; Israthoum are Orthodox Black Metal’s dark missionaries come to spread their corrupt gospel. Will you listen?

Corrupt Moral Altar – Whiskey Sierra (Review)

Corrupt Moral AltarUK based Corrupt Moral Altar play dirty sludgey Grindcore with lashings of filth and passion. This is ugly music for people who know what they like and couldn’t care less what the latest trends are.

The first song blasts out of the speakers like a ferocious angry animal; all teeth, claws and invective. It’s only three minutes long but it’s amazing how much content they cram into it.

Blasting, mid paced, sludge, atmospherics – all raise their bruised heads and have their time in the sun. It’s amazing that they find the time to slow down and inject quality Doom and sludge into their sound – this band are certainly not a one-trick blast pony.

Throughout these four songs the vocals lash and rage in high-pitched screams, as well as deeper shouts and even a nice bit of pig-noise depending on the whims of the Grindcore muse.

Ten minutes is all we get, but ten minutes of highly-inventive grinding extreme Metal that manages to pack more ideas into its short running time than a lot of bands do in a career. If you like Grind or just top quality extreme Metal then this is as near to essential a ten minutes as you’re going to find anywhere.

Ferocity – The Sovereign (Review)

FerocityHailing from Denmark, Ferocity play Death Metal with style and skill. This is contemporary Death Metal that combines intricacy, brutality, melody and controlled aggression to get its message across.

There are blastbeats aplenty, but also mid-paced and slower sections showing off The Chug and other assorted riffs that make this album instantly familiar but also most welcome. Relatively diverse, (within the Death Metal genre of course), Ferocity display influences from various different sub-genres of Death Metal without ever being confined to just one of them. Here and there you’ll find elements of modern, US, brutal, technical, mid-paced and hyperblast Death Metal all sharing the same album, and even the same song. In my book this can only be a good thing, especially as in the case of Ferocity it works and doesn’t sound just mashed together.

There are some very nice riffs on this release and some good moments in the songs – a welcome grasp of dynamics by the band of when to go melodic, when to go full throttle, when to ease off, when a solo is required, etc. all within a solid Death Metal framework.

Ferocity live up to their name but are not limited to it – there is more than just blind brutality here and that makes The Sovereign a better album. Recommended.

Iron Kingdom – Gates of Eternity (Review)

Iron KingdomCanadian Heavy/Power Metal with plenty of ambition and ideas.

A useful starting point would be Iron Maiden/Iced Earth with more Power Metal-style vocals. Epic melody, memorable riffing and considered song-structure are all contained in these songs, as well as plenty of solos and atmosphere.

These guys really do know how to play their Metal! The band are very adept at their trade, whether it is during more atmospheric, classical moments, or going full-on Metal with duelling guitars and galloping drums. Either way they are very confident, talented musicians, and this comes across in the songs.

The singer belts out the tunes as would be expected of the Power Metal style, with the vocals soaring above the music with a high degree of gusto.  The vocals, and the music in general, are well-recorded and sound very organic. The drums and bass in particular have a very warm, live sound that is a pleasure to listen to.

Favourite track? It has to be the penultimate song; the 15-minute epic Egypt (The End Is Near). A triumph.

Like a satisfying Metal meal in a commercial-Metal famine, if you long for traditional Heavy Metal with some tasty Power Metal thrown in – then this is a nine-course meal that is bound to hit the spot.

Merciless Terror – Vile Extinction (Review)

Merciless TerrorHailing from the UK – Merciless Terror play Thrash-heavy Death Metal and it’s a joy to listen to; they don’t make them like this very often any more!

This album has a real late 90’s/early 00’s feel to it that fills me with a sense of nostalgia; at the same time however this is a modern take on it as the sound and energy is distinctly 2013 and exists purely to demolish the listener with its brawny bludgeoning.

An old-school vibe with a modern production, (reminiscent of Malevolent Creation as a reference point), this absolutely crushes everything in its path. Plenty of speed and brutality, but with a matching grasp of dynamics and the need for songs and hooks; this harks back to an era when brutality was not the be all and end all of this genre.

With many stomping riffs to be had and a general feeling of strength-through-guitar-power everything seems in place to worship the riff, fast or slow. And why not?

Vocals are not standard cookie-monster style, more a shouted-bark. This works well and also has a nice amount of variety, incorporating screams and some almost Black Metal-ish shouting at times.

Do yourself a favour and check out Merciless Terror as soon as you can.

Non Opus Dei/Morowe – Dziwki Dei (Review)

Non Opus Dei/MoroweA Black Metal split between two Polish bands; Non Opus Dei and Morowe.

Non Opus Dei are up first, with three tracks of unconventional Black Metal. First track Dziwki Dei almost comes across as a Black Metal Meshuggah, if you can imagine such a thing. Think less Djent though, and more just…unusual. It works. The next track continues its off-kilter approach to Black Metal, with some interesting guitar rhythms and drum patterns.  The final song assaults the speakers and completes the trilogy of songs that although definitely non-traditional, still fit comfortably within the Black Metal fold. Enjoyable.

Next are Morowe who also contribute three tracks. They are a different beast and start proceedings off gently, only to thunder in with a Katatonia-esque riff that gets things moving quite nicely. Vocals are deeper and darker than those of Non Opus Dei and saturate the music with a feeling of terror, further heightened by some claustrophobic guitar-work conjured by the band. The second song starts with slightly cleaner vocals and interesting drum-work. Subtle keyboard highlights help progress the song to great effect, moving into grandiose and epic territory, without ever sounding safe or hopeful. Some well-considered guitars help seal in the sense of unease, and then suddenly are joined by a psychedelic 70’s guitar moment that initially appears quite jarringly, but after a couple of seconds reveals itself to be a stroke of genius and just sounds great. And then on into Post-Metal territory before wrapping up. The final track Czyj to Glos is much shorter than the other two and has a jazzy feel. These three songs are both ambitious and successful. A mark of great things to come.

A strong release showcasing the talents of both bands at creating some nicely non-standard Black Metal. Get it if you can.

Harm – Cadaver Christi (Review)

HarmGermany’s Harm play old-school Death Metal, with chainsaw guitars and an uncompromising attitude.

There is some excellent, malevolent riffing on this album and the sense of 90’s Death Metal is strong. A time when constant blast and hyper-technicality were not important, and instead you have songs, riffs and brutal Metal. In fact if I had been told that this was a lost gem from the 90’s recorded at Sunlight Studio I could believe it.

Strength and persistence are key attributes to Harm; the old adage about slow and steady winning the race…well not slow perhaps but they certainly know how to settle into a malevolent groove and make the most of it. All of this is wrapped up in a strong sound that lets you hear every instrument individually and lets everything breathe nicely.

This may be an album steeped in Death Metal’s past, but it’s a past I’m quite comfortable visiting, and Harm are the perfect, brutish guides.

Also; the vocalist sounds like he’s trying to kill himself by vomiting up his insides. What more can you say? Nice work!

Sanity’s Rage – You Are What You Swallow (Review)

Sanity's RageImagine, if you will; Anthrax and Kreator jamming together to create an unholy Thrash-tastic side project. Sanity’s Rage are that theoretical band.

Hailing from Belgium this is an absolute stormer of an album. Tight playing, and galloping, exciting riffs mean there is never a dull moment. A strong production accentuates the dynamic songwriting of each track and there is real bite to these songs. This is no nostalgia-fest. Rather than looking back to the past they drag it fully into the present and it’s like the Thrash heyday is alive and well and centred on Belgium.

Each song on here is focused, mature, and full of more chops, riffs and solos than most bands manage in an album. And it’s relentless. No pseudo-ballads here; just pure, unadulterated Thrash metal.

Pummelling. Pounding. Shredding. Shred-fest. I could go on, but you get the idea. Like a breath of fresh air this album fills you up with all of the goodness of Thrash Metal, before ripping your face off with speed and precision steel.

Xothist – Xothist (Review)

XothistXothis play the kind of Black Metal that separates the true Black Metal affectionados from the wannabes. There is nothing even remotely pretty or commercial here.

Two tracks of wicked Black Metal full of spite and mystery, each song 20:47 in length. The songs are long but not dull, and have several shades of light and dark that Xothist move through like a hidden predator.

This is a very underground, lo-fi recording with fuzzy emotive guitars and drums buried under so much rawness that they are like a pulse; sometimes unnoticeable but always vital.

The vocals are of the really high-pitched, scratchy, almost-static variety that I enjoy so much. Sometimes it can be hard to ascertain where the vocals stop and the guitars start, and vice versa. All of which just adds to the the experience.

This release travels from ambience to blasting and all points in between. If you are a true fan of Black Metal then this should be right up your foggy street.