Xehanort – Awaken in a Different Dimension (Review)

xehanortI’m not a massive fan of djent. it’s too easy to be mediocre it seems. Xehanort however, belong to a small subset of bands, (such as Xerath and Carthage), who take their humble djenty beginnings and do something worthwhile with it.

So; imagine a heavy-as-hell Death Metal band with some djenty riffs; add a layer of electronics, keyboards and atmosphere; sprinkle in some ethereal clean vocals and cover it all in a complex concept and you’ll arrive at Xehanort’s debut album. And all this from just one person.

This is a top quality recording. The guitars are monolithic and very well played. There is plenty of guitar dexterity and technical wizardry occuring alongside the thick, immense tone of the core heaviness.

One of the failings of djent can be a tendency to stick to the same pace, but Xehanort know when to blast and when to slow down. Each song has levels of added interest as well from the various effects, keyboards, etc. These add to the spice and flavour of the songs rather than fouling it, and never detract from the crushing, moshing, guitar-based core of the band.

Apart from the odd clean vocal as mentioned previously, the main style is deep, brutal, Death Metal grunts, accentuated with high pitched screams that are used tactically throughout.

This may have its basis in djent territory but some serious thought has gone into the construction of this album. If it wasn’t for the modern djent influences this would be classified as atmospheric Death Metal, and probably really should be. All I know is that it’s good and it hits the spot. Give it a try.

Suffer the Wrath – Divine Sign (Review)

suffer the wrathSuffer the Wrath explode out of the speakers like a freight train covered in barbed wire and spikes – maximum damage and no waiting.

Coming from the US they show a good grasp of USDM dynamics while also adding elements of modernity and the Polish scene into a utterly brutal package that still manages to have some time for brains and melody underneath all of that brawn. Yes ladies and gentlemen these are actually songs and not just exercises in bludgeoning.

This is well recorded and boasts a nice meaty sound that threatens to decapitate at 1000 yards. And you can even hear the bass clearly. Imagine that.

The drums are an absolute monster and almost threaten to overpower everything else, but just at the last moment everything else is kicked up a gear and the tub-thumper is forceably restrained and beaten.

The vocals are suitably savage but also have a clarity to them which is a welcome change to the usual members of the cookie-monster club.

At only 13 minutes in length this is criminally short, but as this is only an EP it is to be expected. Album time please?

Ragestorm – The Thin Line Between Hope and Ruin (Review)

RagestormItalian Death Metal band Ragestorm chainsaw their way out of your speakers with enough introductory brutality and modern Thrashy Death Metal know-how to raise the odd eyebrow or two. Then the vocals kick in and you know you’re in for a wild ride. Alternating between deeper and darker, and higher and sharper, the singer can strip paint and cut skin at 100 paces.

This release boasts a tight, precise sound that helps the carnage come alive as it rips and tears everyone around it with a surgical slaughter. The songs are heavy and the band can play.

This is the kind of Metal that excites as it bludgeons. Death Metal it may be but there is also a firm Thrash sensibility at play that informs the songwriting dynamics with more than just mindless brutality. I can also hear a Lamb of God influence; particularly in the vocal department on occasion in certain vocalisations and vocal rhythms and patterns. As for the music I can hear similarities to Byzantine in places. So; imagine Lamb of God and Byzantine coming together to play some tasty At The Gates-style Melodic Death Metal; this should give you a good place to start with the sound they have. They also have guitar solos, which immediately makes me like any band just that little bit more.

This is just their début album and there is already plenty of ideas and talent on display to last them a few albums to come. These ideas are spread out over the entire album, but find a focus in Hari Seldon’s Speech.

A really good collection of songs and a really good start to what will hopefully be bigger things to come.

Top stuff.

Gutslit – Skewered in the Sewer (Review)

gutslitBrutal, slamming Death Metal from India with lashings of gore and a sprinkling of torture.

This is a nicely barbaric release. Plenty of blasting and chugging to set the heart racing. They’re not afraid to inject some nice leads into the mix on the odd occasion to augment the punishing rhythms and slamming nature of the rest of the music.

The vocals are low and guttural, descending to the level of pure pig-noise on occasion. Sometimes it sounds like the vocal equivalent of taking a sander to someone’s face. It may not sound pleasant but it works.

Sometimes this form of Brutal Death Metal/Death Grind/Gore Grind/etc. can sound quite generic and average, but Gutslit are better than that. It’s not due to a radical departure in sound or style, but simply a good ear for dynamics and songs. This is Death Metal that is almost catchy while it’s pulverising you. Think Gorerotted for the right kind of idea.

I like this, a lot. It has all of the ingredients of a satisfying album, and at 26 minutes long it’s a quick, easy listen. Of course these things are all relative. To the average person on the street this would be a Hellish torture session of epic proportions. But that’s just the way we like it. This kind of music was not designed for the wider public. This is Death Metal and this is for us.

Favourite Track: Haemorrhoidal Brain Custard. I defy you to sit still when this is playing.

Disfigurement – Soul Rot (Review)

disfigurementDeath Metal from the USA usually has plenty of muscle and brawn, and Disfigurement are no exception. This release has a physicality about it that just sounds solid; utterly immovable. It’s like the characteristics of a thick, heavy guitar tone have become corporeal and are daring you to try and knock it down or push past it. Which is impossible. Something this dense and massive is not going anywhere unless it’s on its own terms.

These five songs of USDM may be in the old-school style but they can match anything the new-school has to offer in terms of brutality and sheer ability to crush. Classic Death Metal has rarely sounded so vital, fresh and hungry. Thick, rhythmic guitars, pounding non-triggered drums, scathing vocals – Disfigurement have the full package, especially when highlighted with melodic leads and more-than-capable solos.

These are quality songs. They grab your attention with their muscularity and physical presence, and demand you listen to them through choking vocalisations and short, sharp stabs with their leads. At 24 minutes this is a decent length EP, but now we want more. Album please?

Markradonn – Final Dying Breath (Review)

markradonnUS band Markradonn unleash Final Dying Breath on an unsuspecting public that may not be ready for them, unusual that they are. But that can only be a good thing. In an age where so many bands sound the same individuality is hard to come by.

So, how to classify this…? Elements of Black Metal, Death Metal and horns all mixed up together. Symphonic Extreme Metal, but probably not in quite the way you’d expect. Like an Extreme Metal Therion only without the theatrics and operatics. There’s no cheese here – think less symphonic Black Metal and think more the start of Rameses Bringer of War by Nile. This is the territory we’re treading. The band themselves term it Experimental Atmospheric Metal Musical Expression and I think that’s as good as anything else.

Each song has its own atmosphere and a feeling of grandeur is strong on this EP. Each track feels like it’s heralding in some mythic event, or some majestic victory. Music for a glorious Metal triumph where the legions of the False Metal Gods lie vanquished and only the True Metal Pantheon remains. These songs are resplendent in Wagnerian pomp and bluster, crystallised in a hard Metal exterior.

The recording on this EP is functional but with access to a more expansive and complete sound I can only imagine how this band can soar. I’m really interested in what a full album would bring for Markradonn, especially if given complete freedom and resources to create even longer and more epic tracks than what we already have here.

Get into this band now while no-one knows who they are. Then years from now you can legitimately boast how you’ve “always been into Markradonn”. I think they will be worth the investment.

Odem – The Valley of Cut Tongues (Review)

OdemBrutal Death Metal with a malevolent, blackened underlay. Somehow underneath the brutality and blasting the band have managed to inject a level of constant tension and uneasiness into their sound. It’s quite unusual, the closest comparison I suppose is certain Immolation songs, or maybe Arkhon Infaustus, but this doesn’t quite do it justice.

This is undeniably brutal, but it is also very, very evil-sounding. It’s as if someone has distilled the essence of Black Metal, created a foul-smelling tincture and upon consuming immediately vomited forth Odem’s style of Death Metal.

How to describe the vocals? Imagine a condemned, wretched and broken slave dragging a tombstone to his own grave. That is what they sound like.

Exceptional and savage.

Kuazar – Wrath of God (Review)

KuazarKuazar are a Thrash Metal band from Paraguay with a good Death Metal influence in their sound; they have the bite and aggression of old-school Kreator mixed in with some old-school Death Metal from the likes of Death.

The important thing here is the songs. The recording may be relatively low-budget compared to some, (but that’s not to say it sounds bad, quite the reverse), but no expense has been spared in the songwriting. Each track has good riffs, tight drumming and a thought for dynamics and structure.

This is an almost-relentless Thrash attack. But not completely. They may be aggressive but they still have some melodic flourishes and solos aplenty, as well as some moments to catch your breath such as Inner Prison.

The vocals for the main part are raspy and full of bile. Mixed with some almost-clean passages and Death growls the singer offers more than might have been expected and overall puts in a very good performance.

This is undeniably a high-quality album. It’s a couple of years old now so I’m hoping they may have something new to unleash on the world soon. To my mind the world can never have enough great Thrash. Highly recommended.

Sulaco – Build & Burn (Review)

SulacoInventive, modern Grind is what Sulaco have in store for us here, with the odd dashing of Death Metal thrown in for good measure. Think longer-song-style Grind, rather than the shorter-song-style. Like somewhere between Cephalic Carnage and Gorguts or Gorod. Only not quite like that…

This is harsh music and not for the unwary. Choppy, changing, discordant guitars lead the way challenging the listener at every turn, while the drums both set the pace and hold everything together. Needless to say these are skilled musicians who know their Grind, which is only to be expected as they contain a now-former member of Brutal Truth.

The vocals are mostly halfway between a scream and a more hardcore-style shout, which immediately gives the band more of an individual slant than a lot of generic Grindcore bands. It works well here and complements the harshness of the music with an almost Drowningman-type intensity that adds an extra layer of depth to the tunes.

With plenty of ideas, some sharp technicality and the odd flourish of melody and sustained aggressive Metal this is a most enjoyable album.

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.