Unscarred – Fake Democracy (Review)

UnscarredFrench group Unscarred play Thrash Metal the way it was meant to be – catchy and crunchy.

Apparently this is a demo, but it sounds good enough to be their first ‘proper’ release if you ask me. Everything is recorded clearly and all of the instruments shine through, (yes, even the bass).

The band play Thrash Metal with a nod to both Old and New-Schools. To me they come across as a mixture of Annihilator, Anthrax, Lamb of God and Megadeth; all about the songs and riffs.

The singer has an exceptional set of lungs, I could listen to her all day. She has a varied approach using the full spectrum from rougher shouts all the way to much higher cleans. The shouts are okay, but her cleans are exceptional as she has a really powerful voice full of character and strength. Lay this over some razor-sharp Thrash music and throw in some good catchy hooks and you have a very memorable set of songs.

When it’s done well Thrash Metal is one of my favourite genres as you can just get caught up in it and before you know what you’re doing you’re bouncing around throwing obscene shapes and playing the invisible guitar. At least that’s what I hear. I’ve never done anything as unseemly as that of course. Honest. Moving on…

A really enjoyable release, especially for a demo. If the band can build on this for a whole album, and just clean up some of the small niggles in their sound then their next release should be fantastic. Here’s hoping for a bright 2014 for them.

Favourite Track: 100 Lashes. Ludicrously catchy, and sticks in your head for days.

Temple of Baal – Verses of Fire (Review)

Temple of BaalFrench veterans Temple of Baal offer up their fourth album to the sacrificial gods of Blackened Death Metal.

Having not heard Temple of Baal since their 2003 debut Servants of the Beast, it is an interesting transformation that the band’s sound has undergone. Originally Black Metal; now they give us a combination of both Death and Black Metal with some quite varied sub-styles and influences apparent throughout the 60 minutes on Verses of Fire.

Sometimes brutal, sometimes more laid back, always dark; songs are played at all speeds and tempos, mainly in an attempt to create a gloomy atmosphere for the listener to get absorbed in. For this release the band have emphasised the importance of a good atmosphere and have created one via rich textures of overlapping genres of Extreme Metal.

Moments of Old-School Death Metal are toyed with; elements of discordant Black Metal; Thrash riffs; Doom sections; full-on blasting – a wide sample of extremity is taken and fused into the songs on this album.

Vocals are mainly in a darkened Death Metal style, although screams and yells are used on occasion to add a splash of colour to the sinister emanations of the singer.

Verses of Fire boasts a very well produced sound that shows off everything very organically and gives a very satisfying listen. You could place this next to pretty much any band and not have it sound weak or inferior in quality.

Temple of Baal have taken a risk by changing their style from their Black Metal beginnings, and with risk comes either reward or failure. I think the risk has paid off and they have been rewarded with a much richer and more ambitious sound that will serve them well moving forward from here.

If you weren’t sure about Temple of Baal in the past, or have just been unfamiliar with them, then this is the album for you. An hour long of top quality Extreme Metal.

Manes – Teeth, Toes And Other Trinkets (Review)

ManesNorwegian band Manes have released this anthology album that collects together alternative versions, unreleased, obscure and live songs.

This is of the Avant-Garde style, replete with dark melodicism and atmosphere. It’s heavy on the electronics and effects, both of which are used skilfully to craft memorable songs and melodies.

Even if these tracks are essentially B-sides, the talent of the band is still apparent. Combined with the soulful, melancholic vocals the tracks portray the same kind of depth and nostalgic feelings as some of the best of 80’s pop/Darkwave music.

Some of the songs are unfinished or works-in-progress, but as a whole the album works surprisingly well and doesn’t sound as disjointed as one might expect from a release of this nature.

A quality band with quality songs; even though they are off-cuts this is an enjoyable collection. This should appeal to more than just completists and also serves to adequately whet the appetite for the next album that this always-evolving band release.

Interview with Barishi

Barishi BandBarishi have recently released their self-titled début album, the review of which you can see here. A harsh, angular, progressive Metal treasure trove; this is an album with a lot to give to those who crave experimentation and music that forges its own path. Their guitarist was nice enough to answer some questions I threw at him…

Hi! For people who are unfamiliar with your band please introduce yourself!

Hi, I am Graham Brooks, I play guitar in Barishi. We are from a town called Jamaica, Vermont. We have been playing together in various forms since high school, about four years ago.

What are your main influences?

My favorite metal band is Iron Maiden, I am also a Beatles nut. We are all big Mastodon and Meshuggah fans. Jon (our bassist) and I are both really influenced by bands like The Cure and MBV. Our singer Sascha is a huge funk fan and also is a Queen and Led Zeppelin fanatic. We draw from a lot of those bands and a lot more that I can’t think of right now.

What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?

I have been listening to “So” by Peter Gabriel. I think it is incredible. I am sure a lot of full-metalists wouldn’t be into it but I think it is a great album. I have been digging on this band called “Anciients” who kill it and a band from chicago called “Yakuza.” I highly recommend both if you are looking for some metal that comes out of left field.

You have an unusual sound that fuses Progressive Metal with more 70’s-style Proggy vibes, all wrapped up in with elements of more modern avant-garde bands such as Ephel Duath, (at least to my ears anyway!), how did you go about deciding on the sound that you wanted as a band?

Barishi BandCool! Honestly we never really talked about what type of sound we wanted to go for. I think we sound the way we do because we never had one of those talks. Some of the songs that we like playing the most came about because someone in the band wrote something that made us say “I don’t know if that would work in a heavy band” and then we would try it and it would sound cool. I think the freedom to do that had a big impact on how we sound.

I love the angular guitar work on this release. How do you write your songs? What’s the process involved?

One of us usually has a riff or something that they will come into practice with and then we will just try to expand on it. We don’t really have any method or go about writing in an organized fashion. Sometimes it can be a shit show because we will be writing 3 different songs that we think sound cool and we will end up abandoning all of them because we get overwhelmed with all the little parts that are floating around.

After seeing the album art and band pictures, your album surprised me slightly as it contains more harsh and more abrasive moments than I was expecting. Was it a conscious decision to embrace the heavier aspects of music just as much as the more mellow/melodic aspects?

I think we just naturally got heavier. We play with a ton of bands who are way heavier than we are and I think some of it rubbed off on us.

With an eclectic and diverse album like this I can imagine possibly having parts of it that were potentially divisive when creating it – where there many discussions in the band about which parts to keep/throw out/change/etc.?

We wrote a lot of stuff that did not end up on the record. Usually when we did not end up using something it was because we just were not digging it that hard. We try to keep the songwriting process as democratic as possible. If someone really does not like a part or song we usually will end up changing or discarding it. Fortunately everyone in the band understands and it doesn’t require a long talk most of the time.

Barishi BandAre you happy with the finished album? Is there anything you would change next time?

I am. We had a lot of fun recording together and I think the album represents what we were doing for the past year. Brian Westbrook who produced the album is an amazing musician and producer. Thanks to Brian the album sounds way better than we ever thought it would. In terms of things I would like to change, I would really like to record an album down-tuned. It adds a really guttural element that I love.

As I said in the review; my favourite track is Through Mountains, Through Plains. It’s brilliant. This is less of a question more of a comment really! This is also the longest song on the album – do you see yourself going for more of the longer, epic-style tracks in the future?

Thanks so much for the kind words. I love writing long songs. I am sure that we will have some longer songs in the future.

What does the future hold for Barishi?

Hopefully a lot of touring. We love playing shows, it is our favorite thing to do. I think all we want is to play as much as possible and keep on recording. Hopefully at some point we will find a label that is a good match.

Thanks for your time Graham!

Perversity – Infamy Divine (Review)

PerversityPerversity come from Slovakia and treat us to a 17 minute EP of solid Death Metal.

This is straight-ahead brutality which does occasionally slow the pace, showing good use of tempos to create good songs that are distinguished and enjoyable.

Essentially underground Death Metal with elements of the Florida scene; these songs do what they are supposed to and do it well. There’s even some piano at the end of Angel of Prostitution and in the EP outro Infamous, showing that they’re not afraid of adding something a bit extra now and again.

I particularly enjoyed many of the guitar riffs and leads on this EP, which give the songs a bit of character. More than that these are memorable songs; not quite catchy, but rather they stick in the brain and are readily recognisable. No mean feat for a lot of Death Metal and Perversity are to be commended for their songwriting skills.

The vocals are nice and deep but still intelligible in places; they sound good against the backdrop of the music.

The production has a nice organic feel to it which allows the songs to be themselves and encourages the bass to be heard alongside the guitars.

If you are into Death Metal then this is well worth a listen. It’s only short but I found it very welcome. Death Metal played well with good songs – what more can you ask for?

Favourite Track: Incest of Flesh. Full of great guitar riffs and melodies, and some lovely bass work. Really good stuff.

Cosmic Infusion – Cosmic Infusion (Review)

Cosmic InfusionHere we have Indian Symphonic Black Metallers Cosmic Infusion with their first release, a 32 minute journey into the nightside.

From the very first couple of seconds I knew I was going to like this. It instantly has that early/mid-90’s vibe that makes me so nostalgic for the mystery and otherworldliness of Black Metal as I was first discovering its dark charms.

Giving off the same vibes as bands of this era this is instantly familiar and yet fresh and inviting as so few bands do this nowadays, and even if they do they inevitably come across as copycats or merely trying to recapture lost glories. Cosmic Infusion are better than that due to the mass of talent they have and the fact that they’re just so damn good!

Vocals are mainly the standard Black Metal shriek, (done well), but we also occasionally get treated to some heroic-sounding clean vocals which are rousing and welcome.

The music is exceptional – taking the standard 90’s blueprint of mystic guitar riffs and heavy orchestration to create hymns to blackness that really do conjure up images of black masses and Satanic rituals.

This, along with the recent Gutslit album, demonstrates a growing hotbed of talent from India. With these kinds of bands as forerunners the region deserves more recognition for services to Metal.

Cosmic Infusion have crafted an excellent first release that will hopefully prepare them well for their first album at some point in the future. Based on the strength of this EP I’ll be salivating at the prospect.

Get this.

The Restitution – Waves (Review)

The RestitutionFrom the US The Restitution are a Progressive Metal band who aim to take a more cerebral approach to harder music.

According to the band they are influenced by modern Metal giants such as Deftones. The Restitution combine both clean and rough vocals over a more thoughtful and progressive musical background to create some good songs, and I hear elements of bands such as Isis, Devil Sold His Soul, Cave-In and Tool in their sound as well.

Melodies are used well and there is enough aggression strewn in with the Post-Rock elements to keep the energy of the tracks moving.

It’s obvious that a lot of attention and hard work has gone into crafting these songs and it all pays off. Whether they are raging and shouting or crooning and lulling, everything feels deliberate and you get the impression that every single second of this release was meticulously thought through and passed rigorous quality control methods before being confirmed as an actual part of the album. All of this leads to a varied and enjoyable collection of songs that work well individually but even better as a complete package of tracks – a listening experience.

Overall this is a high-quality release combining melodies and aggression seamlessly in a modern Metal style that leaves out all of the clichés and rookie mistakes that a lot of more accessible Metal usually makes. Recommended.

Interview with Corpsessed

Corpsessed Logo

Corpsessed are soon to release their début album Abysmal Thresholds which is, quite simply, a stunner. We’ve barley scratched the surface of 2014 and already I’m pretty certain this will make it into my end of year list. It’s that good. And terrifying. Read on if you dare…

Hi! For people that are unfamiliar with Corpsessed, introduce yourself!

Quite simply, Corpsessed is a five piece death metal band from Southern Finland. We started the band in 2007, and so far have released 2 EPs and our first full-length album “Abysmal Thresholds” that came out in early 2014.

Give us a little background about the band.

The history of Corpsessed is rather brief, though most of us have been playing in different bands for quite many years before this. Niko (vocals), Jussi-Pekka (drums) and Matti (guitars) met in 2006 while playing for fun in another band. We wanted to start something more serious and death metal oriented and asked Jyri (guitars) to join in, and so Corpsessed was born in the beginning of 2007. Mikko (bass) joined us in 2009. This is probably also the point when the bands sound and direction got more defined and we started to concentrate on recording our first output “The Dagger & The Chalice” EP, originally meant as a demo, which got us signed to Dark Descent Records. In 2012 we released our second “Untitled” seven inch EP and tightened the band by playing a load of gigs. The year 2013 was dedicated fully in creating our first full-length album “Abysmal Thresholds”, which is now released in the beginning of 2014.

What are your main influences?

The influences are quite numerous ranging through death, black and doom metal. Mostly the stuff from early 90s, especially the Finnish death metal bands of that time. Movie soundtracks and dark ambient plays a somewhat significant role as well, mainly in the atmosphere part – the music is still pure death metal.

What are you listening to at the moment that you want to recommend?

Lot’s of stuff. Besides the old classics (that you always return to) some more current bands that we’ve been listening to at the moment include Tyrants Blood, Bölzer, Death Toll 80k, Nails, Anhedonist, Pseudogod, The Ruins of Beverast and Wodensthrone… and probably loads more, there’s 5 people in the band with a broad taste in music so the list could get long.

The sound of Abysmal Thresholds is absolutely horrifying – what made you decide to concentrate on creating such an atmosphere?

Thank you. It probably wasn’t a conscious decision in anyway to concentrate on certain kind of atmosphere. That’s just how the songs came naturally to us. Sure, we have preferences how we would like our own material to sound and we push it towards that direction, but it’s not really anything too planned out – the music just flows out that way, and we know what kind of riffs fit the concept of the band. The sound comes mostly from our love for atmospheres that evoke dread and horror and the low frequencies on guitar and bass, music that resonates your whole body and almost suffocates you. That’s how we sound live, and tried to capture that on the album.

The songs bleed malevolence and ooze evil. How did you come up with the songs?

Corpsessed BandMatti or Jyri usually write riffs on their own, sometimes even full song structures that they bring to the rehearsals. We then start working on them as a group making our own arrangements to the riffs and structures, adding details and playing around with the different moods and atmospheres. It all starts with the riffs and the drums usually set down the structure of the song. We know when the song is complete when it flows naturally (to us) and has a sense of wholeness to it.. Vocal arrangements come last. We always start with different kind of rhythm patterns for them that serve the riffs and then make the lyrics fit them. But in the end, creating the songs is not something you can pin point down to some details or patterns, you just feel it.

What’s next for Corpsessed? What does 2014 hold?

Well, we just completed the debut album which was actually quite an arduous experience so don’t expect a new album too soon. We don’t have any big plans yet. Let’s see how this album is received, do a few live gigs and slowly start composing new stuff at a natural pace when the ideas and inspiration flows for them. We’d probably like to do an EP or two before even thinking about a new full length album, as those are always huge projects that require a lot of time and work.

And finally; with such a completely nightmare sound you’ve created here, the obvious question is: how are you going to top this? Is it even possible to take this to the next level of Hellish experience for your next album to create an even more terrifying vision? I mean, without causing your listeners heart attacks of course.

There’s always room for improvement and aspirations for writing new (and hopefully better) songs, and taking things to a next level. Not perhaps in technicality, but trying to top yourself in song writing and capturing the atmosphere, trying out different recording methods. We’d like to for example experiment with recording something completely live to try and capture the live sound even more proficiently, as we feel that’s where the band is at their best.

The future is always open and obscure.

Thanks!

Trenchrot – Necronomic Warfare (Review)

TrenchrotStraight off this is easily identifiable as Old-School Death Metal from these US bruisers. All of the trademark signatures are in place – fans of Obituary, Bolt Thrower and more modern war-themed bands like Hail of Bullets should feel right at home here.

This is mainly, (but not always), mid-paced and takes no prisoners. The feeling of an endless battlefield covered in the corpses of countless forgotten enemies pervades this release, as does the feeling of belonging to an earlier age of Metal. This is Old-School to the core with an even Older-School album cover.

This kind of retro-Death Metal can sound stale if handled incorrectly, but Trenchrot know their weapons and pick only the best and most destructive from the armoury. Clearly passionate about what they do, I can’t help but get swept along with the Death Metal mayhem contained within Necronomic Warfare – the heavy, thick tone of the guitars; the agonised, hoarse, barkings of the singer as he rallies the troops for another offensive; the firm pounding of the drums that lead the willing to war; the wailing, emphatic solos that inspire and rouse. It’s all very stirring.

A thoroughly enjoyable release perfect for charging headstrong into the melee. A snapshot of a time when being Death Metal was enough, and no add-ons or exaggerations to the sound were needed.

As the band say themselves –

“TrenchRot make music within the stricture of two rules:
1. Play Death Metal
2. Crush posers”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.