Kataklysm/Septic Flesh/Aborted – Sound Control, Manchester – 19/02/16 (Live Review)

Kataklysm Septic Flesh Aborted 2016

When I first saw this tour advertised I couldn’t quite believe it, such a ridiculously strong lineup featuring three high-profile acts, any of which could probably headline here in their own right, at least to my mind. This is the very definition of an unmissable tour to me.

So here I am. It couldn’t be any other way. Continue reading

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Casket Robbery – Evolution of Evil (Review)

Casket RobberyThis is the début album by US Death Metallers Casket Robbery.

Casket Robbery play rhythmic Death Metal with a modern/groove Metal influence. They successfully incorporate into their assault elements of Lamb of God and Pantera along with those of Aborted and Kataklysm , as well as mixing in some European Metal influences that allow the band to inject some extra melodic streaks into the tracks that actually remind me of Septic Flesh in places.

Although there’s a lot of mid-paced grooving there’s also enough speed used to keep things varied. The melodic aspect, although not a huge part of their sound, furnishes the songs with enough leads and solos to add another tasty flavour to the tracks.

This is a release that’s heavy and full of riffs. It’s so easy to get carried along with the beat that before you know it your body starts with the twitching and spasming and there’s nowt to be done about it. Hmm, not the best way to describe toe-tappingly-good is it, but you get the idea…

Vocally the singer has an unfriendly snarl that pitches him between a growl and a scream. It matches the rhythmic muscularity of the music and cuts nicely deep into the meat of the matter.

After 37 minutes, some catchy songwriting and some memorable brutality later, Evolution of Evil has left a good impression. The band have produced a very enjoyable album that stands up to repeated listens well and positively encourages them.

Recommended.

Sarpentra – Supernova (Review)

SarpentraThis is the début album from Russian Death Metal band Sarpentra.

If you think of bands such as Nile, Behemoth, Melechesh and Septic Flesh you’ll be on the right lines. This is aggressive, atmospheric and dark Death Metal that’s further enhanced by choirs, orchestration and operatic vocals.

The core of the band is fast and brutal, with deep growls and blast beats leading the way. This is tempered by the atmospheric side of the band, which reins in the brutality, (or tries to), so that the band’s grander and more cinematic side can come to the fore.

The technical brutality of the band blurs by as they indulge their atmospheric side and the two taken together merge into something really special. They may not be the first band to play this style but they sound like they’re doing it on steroids. While some Death Metal bands dabble in their Classical components, here they’ve been taken to the nth degree. It’s as if Therion had created reinterpretations of Nile songs and then asked Behemoth to perform them.

These are songs that have real presence to them. It’s undeniable. There are so many stand-out moments on this album that it’s hard to credit. The lightning-speed playing combined with the exotic melodies and the orchestral bombast…it’s a heady mixture and Supernova is nothing if not ambitious.

A lot of hard work has clearly gone into writing and recording these songs and it’s all paid off handsomely. This is an album that feels like a tour of a strange new land, one that’s ripe with danger but worth exploring nonetheless.

Very impressive and very, very good. Make this a high priority 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.

Varathron – Untrodden Corridors of Hades (Review)

VarathronVarathron are a Black Metal band from Greece. This is their fifth album.

Untrodden Corridors of Hades is a nuanced Black Metal album that contains many different interpretations of the style all bound up in the band’s vision and flawless delivery.

The songs here have good variety within their chosen genre and Varathron work with rich textures to create their dark art.

Interesting riffs, Blackened melodies, subtle keyboard highlights, solid drums, expressive vocalisations; these are the ingredients that make this album what it is.

Whether playing winding Septic Flesh-esque riffs or revelling in the slower, slithering nature of Black Metal’s dark underbelly; Varathron ply their trade with skill and ease.

These songs are intricate beasts that rely on feeling and intensity of passion rather than stand-out catchy riffs. This is music that may be overt in delivery but it has a very subtle subtext that means it works its magic best gradually over time.

If you’re after one-dimensional blasting Black Metal then you’ve come to the wrong place. Listening to Varathron is more like listening to an involved ritual of summoning. This is Black Metal perfectly at ease with itself.

Varathron have released a complex listen that’s no less satisfying because of it.

Let the band take you on a tour and tread these corridors with them, you won’t regret it.

Noctem – Exilium (Review)

NoctemNoctem are from Spain and this is their third album.

The band play Blackened Death Metal with a bit of pomp and plenty of bite.

After a symphonic intro the first track proper Apsu Dethroned wastes no time introducing you to the band’s particular brand of blasting and heaviness. What is not quite as expected, however, is the orchestral accompaniment that forms a nice link to the intro.

It’s a great touch that precedes the actual singer who belches out occult growls with the fervour of the possessed. His is an unrelenting, uncompromising style that gives no quarter and knows no mercy.

The rest of the album continues the theme of a Death Metal band with Blackened influences that incorporates plenty of interesting ideas and sounds into their Extreme Metal repertoire.

The brutality and blast beats of their core Death Metal sound share space with more melodic riffs and a healthy dose of Black Metal influences. The orchestral sounds/choirs/keyboards add a deeper layer to Noctem’s identity and are embedded well rather than just sounding tacked on.

The musicianship is first rate, with the drumming being a precision assault and guitar solos and leads flashing by like lightning. It’s all wrapped up in a stellar production job that allows everything to shine and just sounds crushing.

None of this would have any longevity of course if it wasn’t for the songs themselves. The band show quite capably that they can write a good tune and Exilium is full of them.

If you take elements of bands like Behemoth, Nile, Atrocity and Septic Flesh, mix them in a blender and make a tasty hate-filled frothy shake then Noctem would be the cream.

A high quality, ambitious release; Noctem have proven they have what it takes to become forerunners in the Extreme Metal world.

Watch them go.

Grey Skies Fallen – The Many Sides of Truth (Review)

Grey Skies FallenGrey Skies Fallen are from the US, and this is their fourth album of Progressive Metal.

The band combine a form of Anathema relaxi-prog and a Melodic Death Metal influence with sharp, rasped vocals and heroic cleans. On paper it looks a bit incongruous but in practice it works surprisingly well.

It’s a tribute to the talent of the band that they can combine the soft introspective nature with the heavier Metal parts of the songs and have it sound cohesive and complete.

Elements of Nevermore and Septic Flesh clash with the aforementioned Anathema influence, add to that a bit of Doom and Melodic Prog…basically they have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies and are talented enough to pull it off.

Subtle keyboards accompany the sometimes epic riffs to create a larger than life atmosphere that also manages to stay compact and manageable as the band flex their musical muscles.

The songs are well composed and have a real feeling of grandeur to them. The music is very operatic in scope and ambition, which means it’s a very satisfying listen.

Grey Skies Fallen have produced an album that demands closer inspection. Check them out and hear what they have to offer. You won’t regret it.

Hybrid Nightmares – Hybrid Nightmares (Review)

hybrid nightmaresHybrid Nightmares are an Australian Extreme Metal band with Black Metal and Progressive leanings.

This band are clearly talented at what they do, and what they do is craft Extreme Metal songs. These songs have a solid foundation in Black Metal but have embraced Progressive Metal tendencies that lift the tracks outside of the original genre and into a wider arena. In fact the main thing that’s Black Metal about them is the vocals and logo really.

The Second track Upon the Cursed Wings is a perfect example of this. It starts with a Metal, almost rocky swagger before slowing down to a nice groove with the Black Metal vocals kicking in. The double-bass sections, solid melodies and nice chuggy riffs reveal a real knack for songcraft. Bands like Septic Flesh, Agathodaimon, certain bits of Dimmu Borgir, (sans orchestration), and even Amon Amarth spring to mind.

The recording is as good as anything out there at the moment – everything sounds crystal clear and full of life. There’s been no slacking in this department, or any other. This is a consummately professional release in every way. This doesn’t leave the music sounding soulless and clinical however. Actually the opposite is true as the songs are presented in an appropriate format that allows the listener to take in everything that is going on, and that’s quite a bit. Special mention should indeed go to the riffs – there are some stormers here! Ashes of an Astral Winter is a veritable riff-fest of top Metal calibre.

A really good EP. If they get their foot in the door of the international stage they could go far.