Allegaeon – Proponent for Sentience (Review)

AllegaeonThis is the fourth album from US death metallers Allegaeon.

This is an ambitious, epic release; 72 minutes of science fiction-themed grandeur and technical aggression.

The band’s music is technical, melodic death metal that features a lot of engaging content and some quite virtuoso playing. For a band like this, the level of technicality on display is always going to be high, but Allegaeon never Continue reading “Allegaeon – Proponent for Sentience (Review)”

Red Dawn – Algorithm of Destruction (Review)

Red DawnThis is the début album of these French death metallers.

This is modern technical death metal that will easily find fans in people who like bands such as The Faceless, Gorod, Decapitated, Aborted, Wormed, First Fragment, etc.

Algorithm of Destruction has a clean, precise sound that Continue reading “Red Dawn – Algorithm of Destruction (Review)”

The Zenith Passage – Solipsist (Review)

The Zenith PassageThe Zenith Passage are a Technical Death Metal band from the US. This is their début album.

Featuring former and current members of The Faceless, Oblivion, Fallujah and All Shall Perish, you already know that there’s a wealth of talent behind this band before you even press play.

The aforementioned bands also give you an idea of what type of material that The Zenith Passage play too; combining the modern/futuristic Death Metal of The Faceless and Fallujah, complete with keyboards/electronics and otherworldly atmospherics, gets you a pretty good idea of how Solipsist sounds.

The music is mostly frenzied extremity combined with seasoned atmospherics that’s both highly melodic and brutally sharp. Guitars shift and turn while the drums are an endless exploration of blast beats, double bass and maniacal rhythms.

As should be expected from the people involved in this, the level of musicianship is absurdly high. With so many complex guitars parts, twisting melodies and outright mind-ripping axe-shredding, Solipsist doesn’t leave the listener wanting in the technicality department. That the mayhem is occasionally punctuated by more atmospheric and relaxing moments just serves to make the extremity all the more powerful.

The singer has the kind of rapid-fire bark that suits this type of frenetic music. He seems almost in a race to keep up with the speed of the guitars, and although he’s always destined to fail at this, it doesn’t matter as the trying is the important part.

If you’re a fan of the style of music that The Faceless play, but prefer their earlier material which had less/no clean vocals, then I would heartily recommend you check this out. Hell, if you’re a fan of techdeath at all, I would recommend you check this out. Basically, check this out.

Cult of Lilith – Arkanum (Review)

Cult of LilithCult of Lilith are a Death Metal band from Iceland. This is their début EP.

Cult of Lilith play their Death Metal with muscularity, power and no little technical flair. Their style combines influences from both classic Death Metal and the more modern variants; this has equal respect for Death as it does The Faceless.

Melodic influences raise their heads in places, done in a thoroughly modern style, (not a million miles away from that of The Faceless). There’s even a touch of a Black Metal influence here and there, as well as a decent amount of technicality that both Gorguts and Death fans would be pleased with.

Deep growling shouts are the singer’s weapon of choice, although these are backed up with some quite savage screams where necessary.

These are quite involved songs that have a fair bit going on, but the band still know when to ease off the complexity and just go straight for the throat with a blasting assault when they need to. There’s a lot of good ideas and interesting added extras on these tracks and it’s clear that Cult of Lilith have high ambition for themselves.

A very promising start for this new band. I look forward to what they do next.

Xenosis – Sowing the Seeds of Destruction (Review)

XenosisThis is the second album by Xenosis, a Progressive Death Metal band from the US.

Here we have a thoroughly modern take on Extreme Metal, incorporating state-of-the-art Death Metal, (à la The Faceless), the Progressive and Technical styles, as well as a bit of Djent, Deathcore and Melodic Death/Thrash Metal thrown in for good measure. It’s not as eclectic as it sounds though and it all gels together nicely to produce an album that has a lot going for it.

The combined impact of the above sub-genres is that Sowing the Seeds of Destruction features a lot of actual songs, as opposed to merely essays in technicality/brutality/speed/etc. All of these aspects are here, of course, but they’re all tempered by an overarching aesthetic that largely puts the song first over anything else. As such, this is a surprisingly catchy and memorable release from the off.

The vocals are mainly higher than you might expect, more in-line with the style employed by Carcass than your typical cookie-monster growls. Deeper grunts do appear, but these are less common than their higher counterparts. Clean vocals also make an appearance on one track, with these being delivered somewhere between those of The Faceless and Opeth.

This is a professional package that shows a band coming into their own and injecting their collective personality into the music. The songs are involved and intricate enough to have a lot of content within these 31 minutes and the playing time just flies by far too quickly. Lots of ideas are explored too, with the band thankfully unafraid to express themselves in whatever way they see fit.

I’m very impressed by this and I’m amazed they haven’t been snapped up hungrily by one of the more well-known Extreme Metal labels.

For now though, let’s just enjoy Sowing the Seeds of Destruction and the treasures that it offers.

Abhorrent – Intransigence (Review)

AbhorrentAbhorrent are from the US and play Technical Death Metal. This is their début album.

Featuring former/current members of Spawn of Possession, Absurdist and The Faceless, there’s already a wealth of knowledge and experience behind this release, which is no wonder that it sounds so accomplished for a début album.

The aggressive technicality of Abhorrent is a thing of disturbed beauty and the way that it all twists, turns and demolishes can leave you with whiplash if you’re not careful.

Dense, complex music combines with straight-ahead brutality to create something that lives in both worlds but is beholden to neither. Guitar gymnastics and sparkling, spiky bass are your frequent companions and the frenzied drumming seems only one step away from pure madness.

The singer’s rapid-fire grunting is like being hit repeatedly with a blunt object. Add to this the nature of the music and Intransigence is an album that rarely stops to take a breath.

A lot of Technical Death Metal recently seems to be supping more and more from the pot of Progressive Death Metal. Although this is largely a very good thing, it means that it’s been a while since I’ve listened to the insanely-crazy all-over-the-place style of ridiculous Technical Death Metal that Abhorrent espouse. Well, I’ve missed it and I have really enjoyed the chaotic, controlled mayhem of Intransigence.

Listen if you dare, if you think you can handle it.

Gorod – A Maze of Recycled Creeds (Review)

GorodGorod are a Death Metal band from France and this is their fifth album.

The band play Technical Death Metal and play it pretty damn well. Over the course of their existence they have built up a rightfully-deserved reputation for quality and on this latest release it’s easy to see why.

Gorod have always been fond of atypical, unusual, Jazz-inflected riffs and on A Maze of Recycled Creeds there seems to be even more of these than usual, which, if you’re familiar with Gorod at all, is only ever a good thing.

Another, (one of many), good things about Gorod is their inclusion of a Progressive Metal element to their music, which allows the band to lock into some astoundingly good sections as the album tears along, mindful of not letting slip any moment for greatness. This is Technical Death Metal that values songs and recognises the need for good atmosphere and feeling among the Jazz/Funk craziness and experimental brutality.

All of the instruments are shockingly well-played and Gorod are one of those seemingly-rare bands that know not only how to use a bass guitar but also that you must be able to actually hear it for it to be truly utilised correctly.

Vocally the singer has a charismatic growl that’s largely blunt and ugly, yet still seemingly refined when compared to a lot of Death Metal vocalists. His voice is put to good use throughout the songs and he has enough variety in his delivery to keep interest while still having a consistency that helps anchor the music’s more extravagant tendencies.

This is a very impressive album from a talented band. The songs are well-written and performed by veterans who are at the height of their game. If you take bands as diverse as Gorguts, Between the Buried and Me, Soilent Green, Death and The Faceless, mash them all up and condense them into 46 minutes of controlled mayhem, you’ll end up with A Maze of Recycled Creeds.

Priceless.

The Ritual Aura – Laniakea (Review)

The Ritual AuraThis is the début album from Australian Technical Death Metallers The Ritual Aura.

This is sci-fi themed Death Metal that takes the listener on a brutal and dizzying journey that may only last 26 minutes but is definitely worth the effort.

After an ominous piano intro, the first song Ectoplasm starts and it’s clear we’re in for a world of extreme technicality.

The Ritual Aura excel at combining hyperspeed wizardry with blazing melody and brutal inflections. Elements of bands such as Death and Necrophagist can be heard in their sound, as well as a much more modern style, such as can be found being played by bands like Rings of Saturn, The Faceless and Infant Annihilator.

This is imaginative music that takes its sci-fi theme and creatively incorporates this into the melodies, creating some quite unusual electronica/games-soundtrack-esque sounds that manage to avoid everything that’s usually wrong with bands when they try to do something like this. It sounds like a natural extension of the chaotic-yet-melodic music without sullying it with words like “novel” or “gimmick”.

Although it’s the music that is the central focal point here, the band would not be as enjoyable if they didn’t have vocals. The singer uses surgical growls and unhinged, savage screams. Although not as colourful as the music, (the human voice just isn’t capable), he does a great job of anchoring everything in place and providing a brutal linchpin while the music is off exploring unknown heights and realms. Clean vocals make a very brief appearance on Erased in the Purge, and these are a welcome addition to the mayhem.

Laniakea is short and to the point, resulting in an album that doesn’t outstay its welcome. In fact, I’m more than happy to have this around again to blow the cobwebs off the competition. There’s an energy level and an excitement factor to this music that makes a lot of more generic bands sound quite stale by comparison.

Great stuff. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Holotropic – Permeate (Review)

HolotropicHolotropic are from Slovakia and play Progressive Technical Extreme Metal. This is their début album.

I wasn’t sure what this was going to sound like and was afraid it was going to be some wishy-washy, formless nonsense. I’m not sure why. This was all dispelled shortly into the first song; what I expected to be some throwaway intro track turns out to be masterful Extreme Metal that wouldn’t be out of place on an album by Between the Buried and Me or The Faceless.

More fool me.

No, cynical me has taken a firm beating and I’m very glad too. Permeate is a very impressive album.

Holotropic mix brutality, progressive sections, melodic parts, piano interludes, Jazz, heavy riffs and chaotic rhythms together into a cohesive whole that they’ve then weaved into their comprehensive Extreme Metal tapestry. This is either a Progressive Metal band that have taken Death Metal as their own, or a Death Metal band who have learned the value of expansive variety. Which it is doesn’t really matter.

Death Metal is an apt genre, but the nature of the riffs, the modern cadence, the exploratory nature of the music…it’s simply more than most Death Metal bands get up to. Again the comparisons to the aforementioned Between the Buried and Me and The Faceless come to mind, as this is Extreme Metal that has a modern Progressive slant.

The band can play very well and there’s a boat-load of technicality on display here too. As Technical Death Metal goes it can give most a run for their money.

For all the variety and interesting ideas of the music, the vocals are mainly pitch-black growls. It works well though as it provides a central anchor for the band’s extremity and musical meanderings. They sound great too. Occasional cleans appear sparingly and are professionally done.

Permeate is a varied and interesting début from an extremely promising band. I insist you take note of Holotropic and get your hands on this. They have a bright future ahead of them.

Highly recommended.