Stygian Obsession – Form Is Void (Review)

Stygian ObsessionStygian Obsession are an atmospheric death metal band from the US and this is their latest EP.

Stygian Obsession play old-school death metal that’s bolstered by blackened atmospherics. Ugly, otherworldly nightmares are made manifest through the band’s music; Form Is Void is murky and atmospheric, full of harrowing sounds and dark moods. Continue reading

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Vacivus – Nuclear Chaos (Review)

VacivusThis is the latest EP from UK death metallers Vacivus.

Featuring just two songs and lasting under 13 minutes, Vacivus use the time wisely to show off their dark brand of blackened death metal.

Rising up from the underground like some forgotten demigod of war and malevolent slaughter, the music of Vacivus is shrouded in a filthy blackened aura that coats the music like a Continue reading

Killing for Company – House of Hades (Review)

Killing for CompanyThis is the début album from Norwegian Death Metal band Killing for Company.

Killing for Company’s music seems like it has congealed from a pool of blood that’s seeped out of the corpse of old-school Death Metal. To get an idea of the band’s sound, think Bolt Thrower and Autopsy; mix this with a bit of, (old), Hypocrisy and then add in some atmosphere and coloured melody. Continue reading

Strangulate – Catacombs of Decay (Review)

StrangulateStrangulate are an Indian Death Metal band, this is their début album.

Strangulate’s Death Metal is raw and brutal, going straight for the throat with their direct assault.

The gruesome riffs and bloody vocals sound like they were recorded about 20 years ago and then sealed in a crypt and forgotten about. Until now. It seems that some hapless victim has stumbled upon these ancient recordings and unleashed them on the world.

The band’s ugly approach to Death Metal is not polished, not state-of-the-art, not technical and not precise, and once they have you in their grip you wouldn’t want it any other way. This is 33 minutes of murderous, nasty music that knows a thing or two about how best to go about causing as much damage as possible.

Music like this is very honest and the passion of the band comes through in the delivery. The songs may be raw and unyielding, but they play the classic style well and the songwriting is on point. There’s a pleasing mix of blast beats and the mid-paced, with plenty of tasty riffs along the way that are catchier than you might think, too.

I hear elements of bands like Cannibal Corpse, (old) Hypocrisy, Gorerotted, Incantation, Severe Torture, Suffocation and a host of others in their sound. They pick and choose their influences with care and Catacombs of Decay is enriched by the band’s knowledge of their Death Metal heritage.

I mustn’t neglect to mention the singer, either. His clipped barking growls are performed flawlessly, perfectly capturing the essence of the style.

Mixing the old-school and classic styles of Death Metal to provide us with a great combination of blasting brutality and well-thought out riffs, Strangulate’s début is a winner and definitely rough and fierce enough to scrape your skin off.

Highly recommended.

Mandragora Malevola – Black Flame ov Illumination (Review)

Mandragora MalevolaMandragora Malevola are a Portugese Black Metal band and this is their début demo.

Here we have three tracks of newly-birthed Extreme Metal lasting 15 minutes.

The first track Mandragora Malevola is essentially an intro, setting the scene with dark sounds that soon morph into unearthly incantations and invocations. As is the case with most intros, it’s entirely disposable.

So, first proper song is Arkangelvs Satanis (The Red Moon Wolves). Right from the start we get a lovely, filthy guitar sound that sets the tone in no uncertain terms. My first impression is that it reminds me of Antaeus, although this has a bit more of a Blackened Death Metal feel to it too. Soon after we get some absolutely rabid vocals that are somewhere between a growl and a scream, reminiscent of older Behemoth. The band inject some energetic melody to things almost halfway through and also at this point they reveal themselves to have other, grander influences as the song takes on a powerfully epic feel, all the time retaining its raw, dirty sheen. By the end of the song I’m extremely impressed by their Antaeus-meets-Behemoth-meets-Dissection style.

The second song is Apotheosis (Hvmana Manifestvs), and this initially continues the themes and atmospheres projected by the previous track, but soon demonstrates a more Euro-Metal influence that wouldn’t be out of place being described as Atrocity-meets-Hypocrisy. It’s all still wonderfully raw, and the previous influences can still be heard, but it’s great to see a band not constraining themselves to a one-dimensional approach.

Mandragoa Malevola have revealed themselves to the world, and what a glorious revelation it is! This is an exceptional demo and shows a band with a massive amount of potential and promise for the future. If they can harness the dark energy that seeps from every pore on these two songs then their future place at the top of the pile should be assured.

A must listen.

Soulskinner – Crypts of Ancient Wisdom (Review)

SoulskinnerThis is the third album from Greek Death Metal band Soulskinner.

Soulskinner play Old-School Death Metal with plenty of heaviness and atmosphere.

Very early on the band establish that they are extremely proficient at recreating that raw, elemental feeling that you used to get when you were first getting into Death Metal and you were discovering new things all of the time; Soulskinner delve back into that bygone era when Death Metal was young and vibrant and it’s a joy to hear it.

The album is aptly named as it seems as if the band have discovered a crypt of ancient Death Metal know-how and the songs here strike an immediate chord with the listener. This is primal, atavistic Death Metal at its best, recalling the very early days of bands like Bolt Thrower, Entombed, Gorefest, Grave, Hypocrisy, Septic Flesh, Asphyx, etc.

The songs are full of graveyard atmosphere, rotting brutality and ancient intelligence. Quality riffs are thrown around like they’re going out of fashion and the level of songwriting skill is through the roof.

I love the small, but important, little details they add in. Whether this is a riff here, a drum fill there, a small piano part here, a malevolent melody there…it all adds up and these songs are just great.

This is a exceptional collection of songs. Fantastic riffs and occult melodies combine to create atmospherically brutal tracks of classic Death Metal.

As is fitting for a band like this, the vocals are flawless; deep, guttural, cavernous growls that sound inhuman and timeless.

It’s very easy to get bored of Old-School bands who just want to relive the past but add nothing to it. Soulskinner are different though, as they seem more like forgotten relics from a time gone past that have recently been unearthed to spread their plague anew. It may be old and rotten but it’s still as fresh as the dawn of the scene.

A very highly recommended listen. Soulskinner will rekindle your love of probably the first Extreme Metal genre you ever got into.

Power of Ground – The Butcher (Review)

Power of GroundPower of Ground are from Bangladesh and this is their début EP. They play Technical Brutal Death Metal.

Here we have aggressive Death Metal played with passion and with an ear for a good riff. This is a brutal release with a flavour somewhere between Old-School and a bit newer.

The production values are quite raw, but this is only a début release so that’s okay. It’s not a bad sound though, it just needs filling out a bit in my opinion.

The songs themselves though are nasty slices of visceral Death Metal with a good trade-off between technicality and ugly brutality; similar to a band like Dying Fetus in the sense that they can sometimes juxtapose the two, but they don’t really sound like them overall. I’d say they mix a bit of Dying Fetus with elements of Severe Torture, Defeated Sanity, Infant Annihilator and even a bit of old Hypocrisy in the slower parts.

I like that the band have a lot of ideas and are clearly hungry for this style of music. It sounds fresh and ready to kill. There are a lot of good riffs here and these generally congeal into decent songs.

The vocalist is impressive and talented; screams, growls, pignoise grunts – it’s all here. The vocals are one of the highlights for me, ranging from extreme Death Metal growls to Grindcore-style, unhinged shrieks. Great stuff.

This is a very promising start for Power of Ground. So what do we want next? If they improve on their recording a bit and continue to write interesting and engaging songs like this then their debut album should be a great listen. I can’t wait to hear what they do next.

Onheil – Storm is Coming (Review)

OnheilOnheil are from the Netherlands and this is their second album.

Storm is Coming has a strong production with everything sounding crushing and the band easily wreak devastation like a natural disaster, which is partially what the concept of the album is based upon.

Onheil play Black Metal that’s fast and sharp but also surprisingly heavy as they have a bit of a Blackened Thrash/Heavy Metal influence to their sound.

The band I’m reminded of most is Hypocrisy as Onheil have a similar feel to both their style and sound – if you take Hypocrisy circa Into the Abyss and give it a bit more of a Black Metal sheen then you’ll have the right idea.

They’re certainly not Hypocrisy rip-off’s though, as I’m also reminded of bands like Amon Amarth and, (to a lesser extent), Dimmu Borgir, Kreator and Iron Maiden in places.

The vocalist is very accomplished and sounds great whether he’s screaming or growling. Powerful cleans are also used sparingly to add effect and provide good back up to the main shrieks.

The Blackened melodies are played fast and hard, with riffs and leads being in no short supply. Storm is Coming also features an enjoyably Heavy Metal aspect to their sound, mainly in the guitar department. Duelling guitars are prominent and many leads could be straight out of the Classic Heavy Metal rulebook.

This is a band who can play Melodic Black Metal without it sounding jolly or hopeful; this is dark music with an evil tinge to it that all centres around the band’s direct and cutting method of assault.

Overall this is an enjoyable and absorbing listen with good songs and melodies that capture the attention. Check them out and see what you think.

Those Who Bring The Torture – Piling Up (Review)

those who bring the tortureThose Who Bring The Torture are from Sweden and this is their fourth album of Death Metal.

This is the latest album featuring Rogga Johansson, who we’ve met before in Megascavenger. This should already tell you a little something about the quality levels on this release.

According to the promo text, Those Who Bring The Torture play their Death Metal in a style that will suit fans of Grave, Hypocrisy and Malevolent Creation; it’s hard to argue with this description.

This is Swedish Death Metal at its core but with a few additional elements that prevent it sounding generic. Imagine Hypocrisy if they created a Swedish Death Metal album but with their own, older sound.

The songs are heavy and strong, and like its Swedish Death Metal heritage it’s strong on melodies. These melodies are memorable and provide a focus point for the songs to move around. There are some great riffs here and each track demonstrates a band who are capable of combining Death Metal brutality with sterling melody and songwriting.

Vocally the deep growls are bowel loosening and very satisfying. Higher screams are added to this when necessary and it’s a faultless performance all round.

This timeless and classic approach to Death Metal pays real dividends and Piling Up is an easy album to like. The songs carry themselves with an air of familiarity but just enough to evoke a smile and not enough to roll the eyes like you’ve heard it all before.

Those Who Bring The Torture have got their killing style down to a fine, bloody art. Anyone who’s into Old-School/Classic/Swedish Death Metal will have no cause to complain when they hear this.

Time to raise the flag for proper Death Metal once more. Let the slaughter commence.

Morthus – The Abyss (Review)

MorthusThis is the début EP from Polish Blackened Death Metallers Morthus.

This is a 3 track EP that contains such wonders in its short playing time!

It starts with the track Torment; suitably titled, it seems to be the usual kind of perfunctory intro until it redeems itself with some actual music about halfway through. This segues into the second track Beast from the Abyss and it’s clear that although this is their first non-demo release, it’s impressively professional and has a great sound.

The band play with a Death Metal core while adding some melodic Black Metal influences to the riffs and the occasional scream that enhances the main growling vocals. Merging the two genres of Black and Death can sometimes create mixed results, but they have distilled their influences into the right measures it seems.

The guitars take the Death Metal base and throw in some tricks from both Black and Classic Heavy Metal, including some duelling guitars and some excellent leads/solos.

Stylistically they remind of Hypocrisy in the sense that they combine these three elements quite naturally and seamlessly, although it should be stressed that they don’t actually sound too much like Hypocrisy except in a very superficial way.

The third song is named In the White Wolf’s Kingdom and is another master-crafted combination of the various Metal styles. It slowly unfolds with a Blackly melodic Metal riff into a mid-paced jog before introducing faster elements. They also add additional choral elements to their repertoire and these work very well. It’s another win for Morthus who suitably demonstrate their talents on this all-too-short EP.

Morthus are a perfect example of why the Extreme Metal underground deserves so much support – there are hidden gems tucked away everywhere in plain sight, all you have to do is go looking for them and you will be rewarded.

This is an absolute top-notch release and I cannot wait until they release a full album. If it’s even half as good as this it will be better than most.

Essential listening.