Wan – Enjoy the Filth (Review)

WanDirty Black Metal from Sweden, brought to you with raw punk attitude. Halfway between crust and Darkthrone. If you enjoy bands such as Black Witchery and Watchmaker this is for you.

Short, sharp songs are the order of the day, but they are not the blast-fests you might expect. Mid-paced malevolence rules the roost here for the most part. This is almost like a hardcore band discovering some black metal riffs to go alongside their normal fare and then recording it in a distinctly Black Metal way. Not too far removed from Teen Cthulhu in that respect, only with more of a Darkthrone-esque influence here I suppose.

Obnoxious, Satanic underground evil seeps from the speakers as you play this. You can actually feel the grime. This is the perfect album to stick on when you’re in a foul mood and want everyone around you to just fuck off and die. What more can be said?

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Hi-gh – Night Dances (Review)

Hi-ghSpeed Metal played with plenty of melody and punkiness. With a low-rent album cover and low-rent sound, will the songs be similarly low-rent? No! It seems that all of the effort has gone into the songs to make them as pleasurable and memorable as possible.

The recording is not a bad one, it serves its purpose and allows the tracks to roll along on their speedy way. This is Speed Thrash made for the love of all things crossover, and not without talent either. This band know how to play as hard as they know how to have fun. Technicality added to an ease of riffing that combines to create something truly enjoyable, that seems to just slip into your consciousness and act like it’s always been there.

If they can keep this up for their next release then there should be a bright future in store for this band.

Ilsa – Intoxicantations (Review)

ilsaWell, isn’t this the proverbial hidden gem. Filthy, dirty sludge Metal with elements of thrash and death ‘n’ roll mixed in. Quite simply this is brilliant.

The overall feelings and structures of the songs are composed in such a way that this is a very complete album. Each song easily identifiable from the rest and together forming one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve listened to in a while. I haven’t been able to stop listening to this the last few days.

Very insipid; the riffs crawl their way into your subconscious and refuse to dislodge. The production miraculously manages to sound both dirty and clear at the same time. The guitar tone in particular is strong and powerful. Crushing in fact.

Each track has its own character and personality, comprising of top-shelf riffs and attitude. There is no filler here; each song is its own entity and more than capable of standing on its own merits.

Snarling, vicious vocals accompany the metallic mayhem and perfectly suit the musical vision of the rest of the band. As a reference point they are sometimes reminiscent of the Darkest Hour vocalist and have the same level of passion and legibility. The singer of Ilsa gives an excellent performance in all ways.

This album is first-rate. If you are a fan of metallic sludge and like plenty of depth and longevity in your music then this will certainly be a must for you. So far, alongside the first album by Morality Crisis, this is a very strong contender for album of the year as far as I’m concerned.

Fell Voices – Regnum Saturni (Review)

fell voicesAnother Black Metal tour-de-force from Fell Voices, purveyors of epic-length underground Black Metal.

This album is like a whirlwind; a veritable Black Metal maelstrom of razors and ice. Dark, haunted screams pass by in a blur of pain. The impenetrable walls of sound and fury permit only the most desultory of lifeforms to exist and any hope of release is scoured away by the sandblasting of elemental force.

Dotted around at various points in the proceedings are calmer moments. However, these can hardly be described as pleasant and their main purpose is to build up to the inevitable storm.

Three songs of blackened misery and hate lasting one hour. Not for the weak of heart, this album is calling out to those that would hear. Will you answer the call or will you be found wanting?

Woslom – Evolustruction (Review)

WoslomThis is thrash Metal played mainly in a more modern style but with a real feel for the old-school nonetheless. Think somewhere between the Teutonic thrashings of Kreator and the more US style of Testament.

This album certainly has some bite, with the guitars alone having plenty of attack before you even factor in the other instruments. Songs are well played and recorded, with juicy Thrash riffs, liquid solos and a vocalist that can compete with the best of them.

The songs are memorable and full of nice hooks and vocal lines. Walking the line between melody and aggression they successfully straddle both worlds delivering an album that any Thrash fan would happily bang their heads and fists too.

These songs have grown on me, as all good music should, and I do not hesitate to recommend this band to you. Thrash will never die; bands like Woslom won’t let it.

Soul Remnants – Black and Blood (Review)

Soul RemnantsSoul Remnants play song-based Death Metal with a nice thrashy edge to it. Predominantly USDM-style, they are not afraid to mix it up with the occasional keyboard highlight, some slightly more Black-Metal-esque passages, variety in vocals, etc. Eight minute epic Dead Black (Heart of Ice) is a perfect example of this. Mixing Death and Thrash is not too uncommon; less common however is integrating the odd Black Metal riff or section into the boiling pot, especially when it works well and seems natural.

Working with the confines of the Death Metal genre this is a surprisingly diverse album. They can, (and do), blast with the best of them of course, but they also do more than just that. Melodic, emotive passages sit comfortably next to brutality and harshness. Some good lead work over a solid structure of riffing and percussion means that they are clearly in touch with their thrash side while comfortably remaining of the Death Metal camp.

And there are some galloping riffs here! It’s hard to fault this album when it comes to the riffs and the feelings they evoke. Whether they are going for the throat or want to convey a sense of crawling malice they hit the spot. Solid songwriting and dynamics elevate this album higher than most.

This is the band’s second album – based on this release I wish them many more in the future.

Black Altar – Suicidal Salvation (Review)

Black AltarPolish Black Metal band Black Altar start things off nicely with a bit of atmospheric piano, and when they’re ready they kick it up a gear and come out blasting.

This is Black Metal with a healthy amount of keyboards and orchestration, but it is used to create a dark atmosphere and accentuate the Metal, rather than swamping it with unnecessary pomp and overdone theatrics. The orchestral interludes work well also; minimalist and dark. In short, they have the mix right.

Whether mid-paced or faster, they have a good sense of rhythm and an ear for a good melody. The mid-paced parts of Pulse ov the Universe for example, are as good as anything Samael have ever done, with the faster parts being a bit more reminiscent of Marduk, or some such. There is even a guitar solo, that rarest of Black Metal things. Possibly my favourite track on this EP, but there is plenty to like here.

A well recorded and played sound complements the release well, and allows the band to sound tight and professional, without sacrificing the feeling of Black Metal darkness and awe that they foster so well.

I look forward to seeing what else this band are capable of. Based on this EP they know their art and I for one admire it.

Ghold – Judas Ghoat (Review)

gholdGhold play some super sludgy Doom with emphasis on the sluuudge. It’s heavy on the bass and nicely percussive.

I enjoy albums like this as generally speaking they are easy to become absorbed into. The bass simply expanding to consume everything else until it is the only thing left. Almost anyway, as Ghold are more than just the bass.

This is quite a distinctive brand of sludge and the vocals in particular mark it as out of the ordinary, almost like a one-man gang vocal. These heavy, deep vocals prowl the deep sludgy seas adding menacing and ritualistic tones to the music. Meanwhile the drums hammer out relentless rhythms and beats that supply the backbone to whatever the bass is doing.

A very primal feeling to this release, like something struggling to be born. A worthy addition to the genre.

Morality Crisis – Boats (Review)

morality crisisLet’s face it – any band that has a song named Enormous Fucking Death Ass Knife are going to be brilliant. It’s inevitable. This also happens to be the first song on this rather excellent release – slow and sludgy and so ridiculously catchy you’ll find it buzzing around your head like a slow-motion chainsaw as you try to get to sleep at night.

Second track Lumberjane is a bit more upbeat, with a bit of a Mastodon vibe going on, only dirtier. Filth-ridden sludge is the main order of the day, but with a side salad of calm consideration and reflection which allows the band to show off the fact that they’re not just all about the bludgeoning and distortion, but can also do other shades of grim. Some nice progressive elements to this song too. And blastbeats.

Naptaker starts off with some guttural vocals winding its way to some nice Mike Patton-esque croaking and hardcore shouting. Overall the vocals on this release are diverse and accomplished, yet layered in so much grime and muck that it’s hard to focus on how good they are when they’re raping your face and stripping your ears raw. Same goes for the music really.

By track four Gary Plays With Fire I’m well and truly in love with this band. Essentially a short, crusty hardcore song with a twist – it hits the spot.

Next song Touched by an Adult cements the level of quality of the band in my mind. I find that the best albums are the ones that have enough presence to catch your attention but enough depth to keep it. Morality Crisis play a sort of highly-inventive sludge/hardcore mix that has a lot going on and more ideas in one song than a lot of bands manage in an album. And they have a wonderfully filthy sound – have I mentioned that yet? They may be from the US but they sound more like they should be from the UK with a sound that would sit perfectly alongside the best of the dirty, filthy, sludgy UK underground Metal scene past and present, (Raging Speedhorn, The Atrocity Exhibit, Extreme Noise Terror, Corrupt Moral Altar, Charger, etc).

Anxiety Rifle, (another great song title), starts off like a Converge song with Death grunts and proceeds to batter everything around it before dropping into such a nice groove that it’s all I can do to stop myself from dancing on the table.

By the time the final song Electric Friends rolls to a close I am a happy camper.

So many bands seem content to sound like their heroes, thus ensuring that bands like Morality Crisis are so needed. They take their heroes, mash them up in a bin and parade them in front of their loved ones before beating and eating them to absorb their essence. To sum up – this is special music that deserves to be discovered by any and every filth-loving sludge fan out there.

Essential.

Switchblade – Heavy Weapons (Review)

switchbladeWell this is a cracking good listen. Israeli traditional Heavy Metal played by 5 guys who were obviously born to be Metal.

Switchblade have been around since 2005 but this is their first album. As they say – good things come to those who wait.

Top quality guitar riffing and guitar heroics place this firmly in the First Class section. Nice leads abound and each and every solo is well thought out; all backed by a very competent rhythm section.

Bands like this live or die by their songwriting and thankfully the band are no slouches in this department. I enjoy every single song on this album without exception, and each one feels like it has its own identity and purpose.

The singer has a voice dripping with Metal that perfectly fits the band with plenty of power and presence. Sometimes a band of this ilk with good songs and a good sound are just let down by the disappointing pipes of their vocalist and I’m happy to say this isn’t the case here.

This is such a great album that it would be tempting to say something like “They don’t make them like this any more” but the fact is they do; you just have to find them! How many excellent bands are overlooked purely due to being an unknown name, or because they’re unsigned or on a small record label, or because geographically they’re not from somewhere people traditionally think of when they think of Metal? These bands deserve your support, none more so than a quality band like Switchblade – you may not have heard of them before but they deserve a place in your collection. True Metal has rarely sounded this professional, or just this damn good.