Author: asahenryjones

Underdark – Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry

Underdark – Our Bodies Burned Bright On Re-Entry

Asa delves into the belly of the beast with a review of some new post black metal from the UK, here’s what he thinks…

Underdark are 5-piece Black Metal band from Nottingham that blends elements of Post-Rock, Atmospheric Black Metal and Second Wave Black Metal. Formed in 2016, the band consists of Abi (Vocals), Adam (Guitars), Ollie (Guitars), Stephen (Bass) and Dan (Drums), and have released 1 E.P (Mourning Cloak, 2016) and 1 split (with Antre, 2018), alongside a few compilations. The lyrics cover societal and political concepts, seemingly on the left-winged side of things. All of this should give you a pretty great indication of whether or not you’re going to enjoy this release. Post-Black Metal is already a controversial enough topic for most Black Metal fans, mix in some political elements and it only helps fuel the controversy. However, this review won’t explore the views of the band as that is down to you listeners to dig into, instead focusing on the music provided.

‘Qeres’ starts things off in suitably atmospheric fashion, with ambient, melodic clean guitars, rumbling bass lines and spoken word vocals creating a somber tone. The Post-Rock influence is on clear display, with the blackened elements seamlessly blended in with raspy gurgles and distorted chords. The slow build turns into a terrific storm of Atmospheric Black Metal majesty, with the riffs being simultaneously hopeful yet despairing, based on your mood. The switches in tempo and moods help keep things interesting, with the drums providing a savage backbone with furious double bass work and ferocious blast beats. Abi gurgles, gargles, rasps and roars through the 7-minute plus ripper, adding a sense of urgency and desperation to the affair. Second Wave Black Metal flourishes add further depth to the darkness, contrasting with the beautiful melodies of the atmospheric riffs. All of this culminates with a thundering outro that slowly fades to nothing. It’s a brilliant opener that sets up a lot of what is to come.

The title track follows next with more melodic riffs and pummeling blasts. The bass adds another level of dirt to the admittedly raw production, giving the guitars plenty of added heft. The way the band seamlessly blend various styles together is quite incredible, with the darker, menacing tones of Scandinavian Black Metal worked brilliantly with the softer, entrancing riffage of contemporary Post-Black. At the halfway mark, a calm ambience takes over, as soothing clean guitars wash over you after 4 minutes of an emotional rollercoaster. This section wouldn’t feel out of place on Workhouse album or even a Melodic Hardcore release (think Being As An Ocean for a reference point). The different layers all add depth, pulling you deeper into their trance. Things slowly build until everything breaks into a horrific frenzy of dark, chaotic riffs, blasts and vocals for the homestretch. ‘Coyotes’ calms things down with another clean intro, ambient layers and all. After the disharmonious finish to the previous track, it’s a much-needed breath of fresh air. Slow, delicate drums lead into a distorted version of the intro, accompanied by Abi’s rasps and ground-shaking bass. The expected melodic riffs and blast beats follow the soothing beginnings, with the song switching between slower tempos to contrast with the faster blackened sections. There’s some wonderful use of melodic layering, with atmospheric leads underlining the rhythms creating a surreal feeling of serenity.

The penultimate track, ‘With Ashen Hands Around Our Throats’, goes full-throttle to the floor with grim tremolo picked riff work and head-crushing blast beats. Paired with the ethereal melodicism of the other guitar parts, it makes for some intense listening. The pace slows down at the halfway point, leading into another excellent clean section that is pleasantly mellifluous. Even when things become distorted once more, this feeling is extended over the top. It keeps you locked into an enchanting daze until the song rather abruptly stops. It’s the kind of thing that could be repeated for another 4 minutes and you wouldn’t care, still disappointed that it eventually must end. We’ve now reached the end of the album, with the final track entitled ‘Skeleton Queen’. Slower paced drums married with melodic riffs, uneasy layers and harsh bellows flow effortlessly into blast beats and atmospheric guitars. Back and forth between slow, deliberate sections and fast, blasting chaos keeps you on the edge of your seat as you never know what is going to happen. A brief clean interlude and a frantic, rather desperate sounding spoken word passage quickly lends itself to a particularly doom-ladened section that adds a gloomy atmosphere. This doesn’t last long however, as another clean section greets us, basking us in golden sun and a sense of hopefulness. The difference is day and night but is excellent for those who often feel hopeless. Distorted chords ring throughout, with a wonderful clean lead played over the top adding heaps of additional wallop to it all. And then it ends, almost as quickly as it started.

So… Final thoughts? I’ll get the production out the way first. It’s a rather raw sounding record, though it’s a Black Metal release made by an independent band so that’s to be expected. It isn’t so raw that you can’t hear anything as everything is easy to decipher with crisp guitars making all of the atmospheric and melodic undertones incredibly digestible, gritty bass adding plenty of thunder and drums that still pack incredible heat, despite the rawness of their sound. The vocals are very much at the front, which works well for what the band are trying to achieve. The additional layers are also easy to pick out so, despite the raw quality of the record, you don’t have to strain your ears. This is a Black Metal album made by English people in 2021, not by some edgy Norwegian kids in the early 90’s. The performances are also excellent. Everyone plays exceptionally well with tight guitars, bass that is simple in technicality but massive in impact, drums that sound like a human played them yet maintain an insane degree of tightness and a vocal performance that is in your face and proud of it, adding an intensity to the record that most Black Metal bands fail to reach.

Lastly, the music. It’s impressive stuff, that blends a few stylistically different genres together into one cohesive package. There’s a maturity to the music that puts them on par with more notable bands of the style, and a clear passion for the music they play and the message they convey. It doesn’t take much for you to feel convinced of their love for what they do as it’s felt in every note played, every rasp, shout and lyric, even in the savage blast beats. The album is rather short, but it warrants repeat listens. It doesn’t pull out many surprises with a lot of the same ideas used in every song but that shows a clear sound they’re trying to achieve, and they achieve it to a supreme standard. It’s a hypnotic, dark, sorrowful, hopeful listen that will either make you cry tears of despair or of joy, dependent on your mood. If you like Post-Black or Atmospheric Black Metal then this is an album for you. Underdark have crafted something special here and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here. They should be proud in their achievement, and you should definitely go give it a listen. Fantastic work.

The Album is available everywhere today – 30th July 2021 – follow the Linktree to get connected, physical or streaming

Seven Doors/Goat Witch/Born Undead Split

Seven Doors/Goat Witch/Born Undead Split

Retching itself from the feted underbelly of the UK Death Metal scene comes three bands that will rip your guts out and leave you for dead… Asa journeys into the darkness and reviews this split album for us…

From the deepest, darkest depths of the UK comes 11 slabs of brutal, haunting and horrifying Death/Doom. Each band offers us up their own unique take on the Death Metal genre so, with so much to cover, I’m going to split this review up into 3 sections. Each section will contain a short bio, a run down of the tracks, some thoughts on the songs and production and then after I’ll do a short overview of my thoughts and feelings. So, let’s dive into the riffs and see what deathly delights these 3 acts have offered us!

First up is Seven Doors. I’ve covered these guys (well, guy) before when they released their cracking debut E.P, ‘The Gates Of Hell’, so naturally I was very excited to hear more material so soon. Seven Doors is a Death Metal project by Deadwood Lake guitar maestro, Ryan Wills. The project blends old and new Death influences and has already given us 4 pulverizing tracks of extreme Metal supremacy. The split starts in spectacular fashion, with a short film sample (taken from The Night Of The Creeps for those interested) before going into a barrage of tremolo picked riffs, blast beats and guttural bellows for ‘They’re Dead’. The riffs reek of Old School Death Metal savagery, with twisted harmonies, mid paced neckwreckers and doomy melodies. There’s some flashy guitar work during a brief solo halfway through that shows Ryan’s incredible shredding chops. It all ends with another sample that always make me chuckle. The song features a little something for everyone and is an excellent way to start things off. ‘Anthropophagus’ slows things down with gargantuan riffs, sprinkled with a little Doom for good measure. Things speed up in the mid-point to a mid-paced stomp fest that’ll get you windmilling in no time. There are a few short solos to whet the appetites of you guitar nerds out there and it’s another solo song that shows Ryan’s ability to write in different tempos but still make everything crushingly heavy. The final track from Seven Doors is ‘They Came From the Deep’, which is the exact opposite of what just came before. Instead of slow, low and heavy, we have fast, pounding and relentless. Things do eventually slow down in the middle, with hefty slamming riffs and atmospheric single note harmonies before launching back into the visceral assault and chaotic lead playing. It’s another solid piece of disgusting Death Metal that is bound to get one-man bedroom pits started. Overall, these are 3 solid tracks from Seven Doors that are just as solid as what came before. The production is of the same level, being both clean enough to hear everything but still maintaining all the dirt and grit that gives it an OSDM vibe throughout. The riffs are all killer, and the tracks don’t linger around long enough to feel tiresome. They’re just in and out, delivering us no-holds-barred Death Metal that stands tall with the greats.

Next up is Goat Witch, bringing us 4 slices of Death/Doom excellence. Goat Witch is the project of just one person, who refers to themselves as Nachtghul. The person is actually Thomas Collings who you may all know from Devastator, but I like the pseudonym so I’m going to use that instead. ‘Funeral In Your Mind’ kicks things off, with a Death ‘n’ Roll vibe and dirty production that feels very suitable for the type of music being played. The tempo shifts throughout the track, with riffs ranging from straight up Death Metal fare to Motörhead-meets-Entombed, to slower, doom-ladened riffs that are drenched in atmosphere. You even get some clean guitars about 2/3rds of the way through, in case it wasn’t already atmospheric enough. There’s some brilliant use of haunting melodies and Nachtghul’s reverb smothered roars compliment the music well. It’s another strong opening and showcases a different approach to Death Metal from the previous artist. ‘Rabid’ continues things with ferocious riffing and pummeling drums, as Nachtghul barks their ferocious roars over the top. There are some dissonant harmonies thrown in and the song slows down at the mid-section to bring us some brilliant lead work that is both impressive as it is unnerving. ‘Morningside Cemetary’ is a slower affair compared to ‘Rabid’, but the contrast does wonders for the flow of the split. There’s more ghostly melodies and a sense of dread permeates throughout the slow, sludgy riffs. We’re treated to another Horror film sample midway (taken from Phantasm) that makes the Tall Man seem more terrifying than the film does. The slow riff that follows is more upbeat in nature but has an incredible feeling of sorrow, accompanied by a slow solo that is perfect with the atmosphere. We go back to the darkness once again, paired with a repetitive lead that is both hypnotic and delightfully tense. The final offering from Goat Witch is a 10-minute opus entitled ‘Let Her Die’, a suitably unpleasant name considering the previous proceedings. It’s slow, low and despairing riffs are joined by an array of dark melodies that stir a number of uncomfortable emotions within the listener. At around the 4-minute mark, sorrowful, soaring melodies take center stage, altering the direction of the song and bringing a welcome change from the doom and despair the previous 4 minutes delivered us. Though don’t worry, those atmospheres do return after a couple of minutes to bring back those dark feelings once more. Overall, Goat Witch bring us an exercise in despair, with a variety of different influences making an appearance throughout this section of the split. There’s plenty of speed throughout the first half before the last two tracks slow things down and showcases us the power of Death/Doom. Nachtghul’s offerings bring out a vast array of emotions with hypnotic riffs and dark melodies reigning supreme. It’s punishing, but in a different way. The production is disgusting, murky stuff that highlights the atmosphere of the 4 tracks presented, bringing it to the forefront in a splendidly doomy manner. The songwriting is solid and warrants repeated listens, it’ll be great to hear more from Goat Witch in the future.

Finally, we’ve reached the last artist on the split. Born Undead are a Brutal Death Metal band that aim to deliver short bursts of unending ferocity. Freudstein (instruments) and Sadist (vocals) get the party started with ‘Feral For Blood’, sampling Dog Soldiers before raining down crushing riffs after crushing riff. There are frantic blast beats, destructive slams and crushing chugs, with Sadist providing a guttural assault on the senses. The drums bring the artillery, heightening the brutality to chaotic results. It’s short, relentless and, most importantly, heavy as balls. ‘The Butcher’ continues things with another Horror sample (this time from Motel Hell) and an explosion of manic riffing that will leave you feeling battered and bruised. The song is only 2 minutes in length but the effect it will have on your body will make you feel like you’ve just endured a marathon. ‘Stench Of Death’ carries on the trend of Horror film sample (taken from The Fog) and crushing riff work much to the same effect as the previous tracks. The mix of slow, heavy chugs and fast paced tremolo picking is as potent as ever, making you need a neck brace from the whiplash that comes with the constant back and forth of sudden tempo changes. It’s another short track but 2 and a half minutes is apparently all these guys need to leave a trail of savagery in their wake. The final track from Born Undead is ‘Devoured Alive’, a cover of the Mortician track from the Zombie Apocalypse album. It’s a great way to honour the band that clearly inspires this project and they do it well. If you know Mortician, you probably know how this one goes but if you don’t it’s pretty simple. Half of the song is a Horror film sample (this time taken from Eaten Alive) and the other half is disgusting riffs that vary from insane tremolo picked riffs to groove-ladened chug fests. It’s an easy formula to follow but it’s obviously an incredibly effective one. Born Undead do the song justice and it fits perfectly into the rest of their work. Overall, this is the shortest section of the split with 4 shots of hefty Brutal Death Metal. The songs are well written, with the same production value as the Seven Doors making everything hit hard but still maintain the grit of the genre. It’s also another great contrast to the two previous artists and showcases just how vast the Death Metal landscape is. It’s excellent fun and if you’re a fan of the style then you won’t be disappointed.

To conclude this review, I think all 3 artists have done a spectacular job on this release. All 3 offer something completely different to the rest but they also fit firmly into the Death Metal genre. The production across the board suits the music well, not sounding super clean and polished to maintain the unique atmosphere that Death Metal has. All of the tracks are strong, and each part of this release requires repeated listens to fully enjoy everything that it has to offer. I can’t pick out a favourite section because there’s something here for every mood. Seven Doors offers us solid Old School Death Metal that rivals anything other bands of that style are doing. Goat Witch brings us melancholy and despair, tapping into our darkest emotions, leaving us confronting the endless void of existence. And Born Undead bring the party, with fun riffs that will leave you smiling gleefully as you feed your annoying neighbour to the local alligator. The way everything flows is brilliant and makes for easy listening, despite the overall length of the split. If you’re a fan of Death Metal, then I urge you to pick this up. Not only will it help support these incredibly talented people, but you’ll also find something to fit every mood. There’s something for everyone on display, so go give it a listen and pick up a copy. You won’t regret it.

Out Tomorrow the 4th June 2021 via BandCamp

Terminalist – The Great Acceleration

Terminalist – The Great Acceleration

We’re a bit beghind on this one, as I forgot to schedule the review properly… Asa takes dive into the latest EP from Terminalist that came out last Friday.

Terminalist are a self-proclaimed “Hyperthrash” band from Copenhagen, Denmark. Formed in 2018, they released an E.P in 2019 called ‘Abandon All Liberties’ and are set to release their debut album, ‘The Great Acceleration’ in May, 2021. The line-up features Emil Hansen (Vocals/Guitar), Morten Brunn (Guitar), Kali Tiihonen (Bass) and Frederik Amris (Drums). So, with the short introduction out of the way, you’re probably wondering what the hell even is Hyperthrash? If you guessed Blackened/Progressive/Technical Death-Thrash with a hearty dose of Sci-Fi epicness then you wouldn’t be far off. Think of bands like Vektor, Voivod, Obliveon, Cryptosis or Cryptic Shift and you’re in the right ballpark. However, descriptions aren’t really all that important over here, what truly matters is the music. So, let’s take a dive into ‘The Great Acceleration’ and see what awaits!

 ‘Relentless Alteration’ starts things off in blistering fashion with dense, dizzying Thrash riffs galore. An additional technical flair and some flourishes of blackened dissonance add to the chaotic riffing. Emil bellows his guttural roars over the top and the drums reign intergalactic fire into your ears. There’s Black Metal tremolo picked riffs accompanied by blast beats and a progressive middle section to change things up midway through. This is the shortest song on the album, and it gives you a little taste of what’s to come. A suitably menacing yet catchy way to open the proceedings, and one that gets you excited for what is to follow. ‘Terminal Dispatch’ starts with a fantastic mid-paced groove before switching into the maddening, spacey Thrash riffs you’ve come to expect from this type of music. The shifting tempos work well together and it’s something that continues throughout the song. It proves that the band don’t have just sheer speed in their arsenal (though there is plenty of that). There’s more tremolo picked riffs, though of the more Death Metal variety this time, which are obviously accompanied by blast beats. We get treated to our first solo of the album halfway through, and it’s a suitably shreddy affair. After this we get into another tempo shift that treats us to some interesting chord progressions and some excellent leads. It’s the best part of the song and contrasts excellently with the sections before.

‘Invention Of The Shipwreck’ is the longest song on the album, coming in at an impressive 10 minutes and 57 seconds. It starts with these atmospheric spaceship sounds before an explosion of blackened riffs and punishing blast beats take over. Dissonant picked chords pave the way for a slowed tempo and epic power chords. It’s dark, brooding and drenched in a thick atmosphere. These previous elements combine into one monstrous verse that is Black Metal heavy on the tremolo picking and blast beats, but with the added dissonance to add that cosmic flair. Double bass kick runs bring another level of destruction to the tremolo picking before the tempo shifts into overdrive, as does the technicality. Classic Hyperthrash madness ensues in all its splendor, throwing riff after riff in your face, all of them as infectious as the next. We’re treated to another solo and it’s a blistering exercise in shred that will please all the guitar nerds out there. Things slow back down for the outro as the atmosphere thickens once more, with the addition of a darkly melodic bass solo that isn’t short of some impressive technical flourishes. It’s a suitably spectacular way to end a monolithic song. Despite the rather long length, it doesn’t feel any longer than the previous tracks, a testament to the bands strong writing chops.

The penultimate track, ‘Estranged Reflection’, starts things off with haunting clean guitars paired with raspy vocals before a mid-paced stomper comes along to wreck your neck. Dissonance is king in this track with ringing notes flirting with chaotic riffs before things shift into hyper speed with the type of riffing you expect from these guys. Another impressive solo leads us back to where things began as the clean guitars are joined by monstrous chords and things slowly begin to fade. We’re now onto the last track and it’s another lengthy one. ‘Dromocracy’, despite not being as long as ‘Invention Of The Shipwreck’, still clocks in at 9 minutes and 13 seconds. These two tracks alone make up more than half of the running time of this album. It begins with a classic hi-hat count in before chunky, atmospheric chords backed with swinging drums bring us some behemoth grooves. Of course, this is quickly interrupted in favour of ear-splitting blast beats and tremolo picked riffs. Tempos switch as frequently as the atmosphere does, going from headbanging riff fests to terrifying dissonance in mere seconds. The song charges on at the speed of light, creating a maelstrom of crazy, frantic riffs that leave your jaw on the floor and the rest of your body turned to dust. At the mid-point of the track the tempo slows to bring about some incredible Doom-ladened riff work that feels gargantuan in scope and oppressive in nature. The basis of this blends into a blackened version of itself, like the song is being twisted and contorted into something more threatening. Leads switch to continuously add a building sense of urgency before it, quite literally, reaches a breaking point and explodes into one last haunting refrain.

So, where to begin? Well, let’s talk about the playing first. Everyone does a great job here. The playing, from everyone, is spot on and everything sounds incredibly tight. It all sounds like a cohesive unit and nothing is messy, which is a must for music as intricate as this. Emil and Morten are very talented guitarists, and they work brilliantly together. Kali is a fantastic bassist and the short moments they have to shine are used to outstanding effect. The bass solo in ‘Invention…’ is a highlight from the album, but the bass is brilliant everywhere, working well with both the guitars and the drums. Speaking of drums, Frederik is an absolute machine behind the kit and more than carries this band throughout the album. There are times where the band choose to just ride a riff for a long period of time and the drums are what keep things interesting during those moments. They never overplay stuff for the sake of doing so, just doing whatever is necessary to take the songs to that next level. The precision is impressive and is exactly what this band needs. Emil’s vocals are fine. They’re nothing insane but they do the job and do it well. It would be nice to see some increased range but for the most part, they fit well with the music. The raspy vocals over the clean guitars in ‘Estranged…’ are particularly haunting and stick out on the album.

The mix is brilliant stuff, making all the instruments and additional layers easy to hear. Nothing is fighting in the mix and it sounds clean, but not overly clean. There’s still a bit of grit and dirt left underneath to give it that old school Thrash vibe. As for the songwriting, it’s top tier stuff. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before but that isn’t a bad thing. More and more bands are starting to adopt this style and I love it. It’s the right mix progressive, technical, blackened elements with old school Death Thrash, but without sacrificing catchy riffs and brilliant solos. The longer songs on the album don’t feel any longer than the shorter ones, they’re always keeping you engaged and changing things up just as you think you know what to expect. I’ve already said that it’s a testament to their craftsmanship and I still stand by that. These guys know how to write damn good songs, whether they’re 5-minute Thrash fests or 11-minute epics. Overall, this is a brilliant debut album and I’m excited to see what comes from them further in the future. If you’re into the new wave of Sci-Fi themed Thrash then you’ll love this. It’s got so many different elements for you to chew on and it’s always fun to listen to. There are plenty of riffs to please the Thrash happy crowd, but also plenty of different elements for those looking for music with a little more substance. Regardless of where you sit on the Metal spectrum, there’s something you’ll get out of giving this a spin. I’m hoping this one doesn’t just fly under the radar because it deserves your attention. I have no doubt this will be a strong contender for Album Of The Year for many, and I think I’m included in that. Give it a listen and support Terminalist as much as you can. I’m looking forward to seeing what they bring to us next!

Order, stream or follow via the Link

Hideous Divinity – LV-426

Hideous Divinity – LV-426

She claims she saw an Alien Once… whoopee fuckin doo…. Asa reviews the new EP by Romes Hideous Divinity

Hideous Divinity have garnered quite the reputation within the Death Metal circle over the last decade. Formed in 2006 in Rome, Italy (in case you somehow forgot where Rome is), they didn’t really start finding their footing until 2012. But that’s jumping ahead slightly. The band was formed by Enrico Schettino in late 2006 after parting ways with one of Italy’s most well-known Metal exports, Hour Of Penance (who Schettino was a founding member of). At the end of 2007, they released a 2-track demo called ‘Sinful Star Necrolatry’ but then after that… Nothing. Until 2012 that is, when they released their incredible debut album, ‘Obeisance Rising’. Since then, there have been multiple line-up changes and 3 more albums (‘Cobra Verde’ in 2014, ‘Adveniens’ in 2017 and ‘Simulacrum’ in 2019), but all you need to know is that Schettino is still art the heart of the band, alongside Enrico Di Lorenzo on Vocals (since 2010), Giulio Galati on Drums (since 2012), Stefano Franceschini on Bass (since 2013, also a member of Belgian Death bruisers Aborted since 2016) and their most recent addition, Riccardo Benedini on Guitars (since 2019). Now they’re here, in 2021, with a 3-track E.P entitled ‘LV-426’. What is LV-426, you ask? Well for any Alien fans out there, you may know it better as Acheron, the moon where the Xenomorph eggs are discovered in Alien, and where the bulk of the action in Aliens takes place. So, dizzying, brutal technical Death Metal? Check. Aliens? Also check. Good music? Let’s take a listen…

A moody, dark and atmospheric intro ominously builds, lending a sense of dread and excitement for what’s to come, until ‘Acheron, Stream Of Woe’ explodes with ferocious intensity. Tremolo picked riffs with a technical flair and an edge of melodicism, guttural bellows and manic blast beats hit fast, and hit hard. The verse is slow and crushing with some dissonant melodies, evoking a feeling of uncertainty, with pummeling double bass drum foot work keeping the aggression going. The song weaves and spins new riffs with abundance, varying in their ideas but ultimately as destructive as a black hole expanding. When the song slows down, you’re met with atmosphere as thick as the one that can be found on the surface of Acheron. There’s always this feeling that something is off, an impending sense of doom. It contrasts excellently with the chaotic nature of the faster, technical flourishes and showcases an incredible grasp on effective songwriting. The section beginning at the 3:50 mark is an excellent example of what I’m talking about. These sections are often layered with different melodies and atmospherics that all tie neatly together, the level of detail put into these songs to create the ultimate listening experience is something to admire. The solo at 4:45 is brilliant stuff, showing how technical shred work can still be beautifully melodic and chaotically intense at the same time. The song ends with a fury of savage riffs to wreck your neck to, with blasts aplenty, before making way into eerie synths that slowly fade out. It’s a nice touch that is also slightly terrifying.

‘Chestburst’ fades us back in before erupting into fierce Black Metal tinged technical riffage. A short Bass passage (from now on known as a Bassage) leads into a maddening verse that is layered with complexity and dissonance. A few more Bassages forewarn of the insane, off-the-wall riff that’s about to come, and is heavenly to hear for Bass nerds like me. Chords of dread smother us with its blackened essence, coming to an abrupt halt as the intensity, and speed, is kicked into high gear once again. The whole song oozes unhinged and deranged, with the solo at the 2 minute mark being no different. It may start slow but as it goes on, it becomes faster, more technical and twisted, evolving into a feral force of obliteration. Another short barrage of technical riffing leads into another doom-laden section that is as short as it is despairing. From here, the song continues to build in vehemence, getting more deadly with each subsequent blast-beat lead assault. An abrupt ending, layered with a variety of quickly ascending strings and horns, is the perfect way to end the song. It’s shorter and far more frantic than the previous track, going straight for the face, impregnating you, and then bursting out of your chest within a matter of minutes.

The third, and final, track on the E.P isn’t an original song, but I’m still going to talk about it because it is very different to the original. ‘Delirium Trigger’ was originally written by US Prog-Rock band Coheed And Cambria (a band I’ve been a fan of for years), and was featured on their debut album, ‘The Second Stage Turbine Blade’. The original is a slow, melodic piece of Post-Hardcore meets Prog-Rock, with a catchy chorus and earwormy melody. Claudio’s high-pitched singing isn’t quite as controlled as they would be on future releases, but all the ingredients that have made C&C such an incredibly popular band now are here on full display. I think this is important to note because the Hideous Divinity version is… Well, let’s just say if you didn’t know who Coheed And Cambria were, you could easily be forgiven for thinking this was an original song. Instead of high pitched cleans, you have vicious, guttural bellows. The guitar work has been given a modern Technical Death Metal upgrade, implementing rhythmic changes and adding plenty of dissonance that adds some ugly disharmony to an otherwise melodic song. The essence of the original is still here, but it’s twisted, distorted, molded into a horrific version of itself. The riffs have a blackened essence that turns something once fun and catchy into an exercise in fear and suspense. The changes in tempo are frequent, blasting and smashing with unrelenting vigour one minute, and then countering that with slower, slightly more melodic sections that radiate anxiety. The slightly eerie, but still calm and melodic section at 2:36 in the original is now replaced by an unsettling, deranged and quite frankly insane piece of piano composition that is as impressive as it is disturbing. The drums behind it only add to all of this. And when the vocals kick in during the original, they’re a little unnerving but they’re nowhere near the violent eruption Di Lorenzo treats us to. I could go on about all the changes, but I think you get the idea. It’s the original, but hideously deformed to the point where it’s, at times, almost unrecognizable. And I for one, absolutely love it. For me, this is how you should do covers. Take all the best ingredients from the original and make it into your own. It’s hard to do, and I imagine that this was a monolithic task for the band, but the end result is impressive as hell and is probably one of the best covers I’ve heard, ever.

So, here we are. We’ve reached the end of what has been a short, but seriously intense, journey. Hideous Divinity have created an E.P that works on every level. It’s sometimes melodic, sometimes frantic, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, sometimes atmospheric and other times technical as all hell… But it is, at all times, brutal, punishing and ferocious. And that is what I want from my Tech Death. The songwriting is top notch, with so many little layers that heighten the audial experience and shows how much thought and care has been put into every detail on this recording. Honestly, they could have just released riff salad for 15 minutes and Tech Death fans would still lap it up, but they’ve opted to go for something a little different and it pays off in massive ways. It’s a satisfying listen the first time, but with subsequent listens it becomes more so, as you discover all the little things they’ve added. You could spend hours dissecting all of the material, breaking down every riff note-for-note, every transition, every background layer and you’d still end up finding something you initially missed.

The performances are top notch, 10/10 type stuff. The recordings are tight on the guitar front, with Schettino and Benedini sounding like one tight, well-oiled unit. They’re clearly firing on all cylinders and aren’t afraid to show off their technical prowess when they want to. Di Lorenzo’s vocals are powerful barks of brutish hatred, spat with an intensity that could liquidate your face if you got to close. Franceschini is a monster Bassist who I’ve been following since he started doing Bass covers on YouTube many, many years ago. He has always been a source of inspiration for me, and for many other Bass players out there, and his performance on here is just another reason for me to go practice. His little moments to shine are impeccably executed, and he never overdoes anything. It fits in perfectly with the guitars and drums, really embracing being the meat of the band. As for Galati’s drumming… It’s insane how talented they are. The speeds her can play at is mind-blowing to behold, but he can also tone things down when he must. He has this unique ability to just look at every section of a song and just play the right thing. There’s plenty of blast beats, as you can expect, but there’s also some ridiculous fills and when he slows things down, it makes you appreciate the other layers more because he isn’t just trying to pummel you for 15 minutes. His technique is superb and the force and aggression that he’s beating his kit with is evident throughout. The production is also at the highest level. It’s crisp, clean and everything sounds tight. The tones are excellent, and everything can be heard. However, this isn’t super sterile sounding stuff. There’s a spaciousness given to everything, like there’s some reverb allowing every instrument and tiny layer to breathe. It helps up the atmosphere of the record and doesn’t create this grating feeling that you can often get when a record is to clean.

Everyone involved in this project should be pleased because every element of it is top tier stuff. If you’re a fan of Technical Death Metal, then you’ll lap this up with no problem and will be left wanting more. However, if you’ve never ventured far into Tech Death for one reason or another, this is a brilliant way to start digging. It’s got all the hallmarks of brilliant Tech Death, but with a strong focus on crafting the best possible songs and ensuring that they took the time to allow each individual layer to find its place, Lv-426 has surpassed being just another Tech Death release. In fact, I think Hideous Divinity have surpassed being just another excellent Tech Death band. They’re one of Metal’s best right now and if they can continue this upward trajectory they’ve been on for nearly a decade, they may just reach heights most could only dream of.

LV426 is out this Friday via Century Media Records

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined

Need a mega review for a Monday? Well check out this monster detailed tale about the new Cannibal Corpse Album by Asa… we think he may like it!

Cannibal Corpse are a band that need little, if any, introduction by this point. However, in case you’re not too familiar with them, their history goes a little something like this: Formed in 1989 in Buffalo, New York by Chris Barnes, Alex Webster, Paul Mazurkiewicz, Jack Owen and Bob Rusay. Rusay was dismissed from the band in 1993 after 3 albums, being replaced by Rob Barrett. In 1995, Chris Barnes was dismissed due to creative differences and was quickly replaced by George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher (much to the dismay of many fans, who still try to argue that Barnes is better). 1997, Barrett leaves the band, gets replaced by Pat O’Brien. 2004, Owen leaves the band and is replaced by Rob Barrett once again in 2005. Years go by with no trouble until 2018 when O’Brien is arrested for assault and battery charges, with Erik Rutan (most known for his work in Hate Eternal and Morbid Angel) taking up live duties, before becoming a full-time member in 2021. Did you get all that? No? Well don’t worry, all you need to know is that the band is currently made up of George Fisher (Vocals), Alex Webster (Bass), Paul Mazurkiewicz (Drums), Rob Barrett (Guitar) and Erik Rutan (also Guitar). As you can tell, they’ve had a storied career with line-up changes aplenty and more than their fair share of controversy. However, the only thing that matters is whether or not the recent troubles have hindered, or potentially even helped, the band. So, is 15th time the charm for these old school titans of brutality? Or have they finally lost their steam after all these years?

The band go straight for the jugular, launching into a ‘Murderous Rampage’. The riffs are fast and crushing, with hints of their Thrashy beginnings thrown in for good measure. Don’t worry if you think any of that technical groove the band have become known for is gone though, as halfway through we’re treated to fretwork that will have everyone doing their best windmill impression. There are also the classic Death Metal solos thrown in, shreddy, atonal and sounding like a madman trying to hack and slash at your tympanic membrane (the professional way to say eardrum, if you ever want to look like a weirdo). Corpsegrinder’s vocals sound more vicious than ever before, with his guttural bellows ferocious and his iconic high screams terrifying. ‘Necrogenic Resurrection’ continues the insane pace set by the opener and adds a slightly more progressive vibe to the proceedings, amplifying the insanity. A crushing, slow chugging riff will wreck necks, with another top tier shredfest following soon after. The band use plenty of dissonant harmonies to create a feeling of unease throughout, adding to the unhinged, chaotic nature of it all. ‘Inhumane Harvest’ was the first single released for the album, using slower paced fretwork to crush your cranium and adding moments of frantic, faster riffage to devastating effect. The whole song screams the best of both old and new Cannibal Corpse, using all the tools they’ve learned over the years to create an intense assault on the senses.

‘Condemnation Harvest’ is straight in with maddening, slow riff work that utilizes harmonics to tense results. The riffs remain on the slower side for the first half of the song, with some of the catchiest work the band have produced so far. The tempo abruptly shifts in the second half, switching between explosive bursts of manic speed and monolithic mid-paced grooves. The song ties itself together neatly at the end, reintroducing the first riff and using it to close things out. The fifth track, ‘Surround, Kill, Devour’, keeps the mid-paced grooves coming and has an energetic, catchy chorus that will become an instant earworm. As always, there’s the shifts in tempo that keeps you on your toes, with some impressive technical prowess thrown in, showcasing the impressive chops the band possess. ‘Ritual Annihilation’ blasts its way into existence, hitting hard and fast. Some dissonant leads keep things on edge, creating a sense of impending doom. It’s as if a freight train is close to veering off track but is doing just enough to keep itself under control. Until the halfway point anyway, when all hell breaks loose with sudden changes in tempo upping the ante a little further, finally sending things careening off course. ‘Follow The Blood’ brings us some Death/Thrash vibes during its intro section, before doing a complete U-turn on us and bringing filthy, sludge filled grooves to the forefront. Alex gets to show some of his impressive Bass chops, leading us into an increase in tempo and some delightfully mind-bending riffs. The lead work displayed on this song is my favourite from the whole album, showcasing some excellent use of darker melodies that compliment the riffs underneath perfectly. 

‘Bound And Burned’ brings us what we expect from Cannibal Corpse by this point, sounding like something that would fit well on Kill, Evisceration Plague or Torture, albeit with more shredding madness. It’s classic CC and will get multiple pits erupting throughout venues the world over. ‘Slowly Sawn’ gets you amped up for a mid-paced slugfest and delivers with crushing guitar work that adds just a touch of technical flair. The riffs twist and turn, never staying in the same place for too long. The song slowly meanders, pulverizing you with the sheer force of the riffs on display. The slower tempo works well here, after the intensity from the previous tracks reaching ridiculous heights. It’s still brutal and aggressive but done in a different way, something of a testament to their songwriting skills. The penultimate track, ‘Overtorture’, opts for the exact opposite approach, kicking things into high gear and staying there from the off. It’s a short, punishing experience that proves the band can do fast bruisers just as well as they can do slow burners. Alex’s Bass work gets another chance to shine here, feeling like a little throwback to some of the classic moments throughout their career. If unrelenting speed is your thing, then this song is one that will satisfy your cravings and then some. We’ve now reached the final track on the album, with ‘Cerements Of The Flayed’ bringing us the skull-crushing slow riffs that CC do so well. It’s dark, foreboding and sounds as though we know the world is about to end yet there is nothing none of us can do to prevent it. The bursts of speed add to the urgency of the song, creating an intense listening experience, with the solo section being the part where things start to crumble around us, and mass panic ensues. The slow ending with the Slayer-esque guitar wails is the moment we accept our fate and watch as everything we love perishes before the world finally turns to dust. It’s the right mix between feeling destructive and hopeless, encompassing everything that makes CC so great. A suitably morbid and savage ending to the album.

Cannibal Corpse have stood atop the Death Metal throne for over 30 years now, and for good reason. They’ve been one of Metal’s most consistent bands, where even their worst albums are still good, and their peak albums being downright excellent. They occasionally get a bad rep from some of the Death Metal crowd for being a gateway band, but the truth is that Cannibal can go toe-to-toe with pretty much any band out there. This album is proof of that. By this point, the band could phone things in and release some average material the way fellow peers have done in recent years (looking at you Deicide and Morbid Angel) but instead they’ve proven that they very much still have the same fire from 30 years ago. This album is peak CC, doing everything they do at the absolute highest level. The tempo changes could feel completely off with most other bands, but CC have made it all just feel so… natural. There’s something for every Death Metal fan. You have Thrashy Death Metal riffs, some Technical Death Metal riffs, monstrous grooves and sludgy neck snappers. The lead work is intense and often unsettling, providing plenty of shred for guitar nerds, but also plenty of disturbing harmonies that put you on edge. Fisher has proven why he’s such a beloved vocalist with a performance that can stand tall with his absolute best work. Paul’s drumming is top notch, still being able to pick the right beats to compliment the music, and his use of tempo changes throughout is high tier stuff that elevates the music significantly. The guitar playing by Barrett and Rutan is tight and clean, with Alex’s bass playing as excellent as it’s ever been. 

Production wise, the album is excellent, with the only issue being my want for the drums to be slightly louder (especially on the kick drums). But that’s a minor thing as you can still hear them fine, I just think the music would be a little more destructive if they were slightly more prominent in the mix. The bass tone is pure filth and the guitars sound ridiculously heavy, even by Death Metal standards. The mix is great, bar my one minor issue. You can still hear everything with ease, including all the different layers and it helps flesh out the album. Despite the pure insanity the album offers, the fact that you can still hear everything is impressive. The album was produced by Rutan, and you can tell. Having produced the band four times before, it’s safe to say that he knows what he’s doing. His songwriting presence can also be felt throughout, adding another layer of depth to the band previously unheard in prior releases. After three decades, Cannibal Corpse have proven that they’re the reigning kings of Death Metal. They may not be the most original at times and their music does follow a certain formula, but it’s straight up brutal, uncompromising Death Metal that takes no prisoners and pulls no punches. Violence Unimagined is one of the bands highlights, setting the bar high for all Death Metal releases this year. Well done Cannibal Corpse, 15 albums in and still making career highlights. If you’re a fan, then you’ll love every second of this. And if you’re not, I’d still recommend giving it a go. There’s a lot to chew on here so you’ll find something to love.

Cannibal Corpse – Violence Unimagined is out on Friday via Metal Blade

Sadistic Force – First Strikes

Sadistic Force – First Strikes

Asa delves into the Blackened Thrash of Sadistic Force

Do you like your Thrash fast, aggressive and blackened? Well do we have a treat for you! Sadistic Force are a Black/Thrash outfit from Austin, Texas. Formed in 2020, they’ve released two E.P’s, which have now been compiled into one complete collection called First Strikes. There isn’t much information available about the band. Metal Archives says that James Oliver (also in the Thrash band Dibilitator) takes care of Vocals, Guitars and Bass and that Hell Troll is responsible for the drums. However, I’ve also been told that James actually does everything himself, much like another James from a certain UK based Black/Thrash band… Apparently people named James love their Thrash Metal blackened. So, are these two First Strikes deadly? Let’s get to the riffs and find out!

The first four songs are all from the debut E.P, Pain, Sex and Rapture. ‘Frost Tower’ kicks things straight into high gear, with a mix of Motörhead inspired riffing and classic New Wave of British Heavy Metal lead work before ripping into Thrashing mayhem. The chorus provides catchy chord progressions, and a mid-paced neck snapper brings us some lower, Death Metal-esque vocals that work well with the higher blackened shrieks utilized throughout most of the track. Just after the 2-minute mark is a shredding solo that has plenty of melody. The track shows you what you can expect going forward, offering us plenty of different elements to chew on within a little over 3 minutes. ‘Pain, Sex and Rapture’ brings us the Black Metal, with dark tremolo picked riffs backed by destructive blast beats. The song switches between blackened atmospheres and Thrashing brutality, with a side of Heavy Metal catchiness. The riffs are as catchy as they are punishing, with another reverb-drenched solo to satisfy the shred hungry beasts in all of us.

The third track, ‘The Blade Itself’, fades in with Maiden worship melody before abruptly switching the tempo and tearing out your throat. The riffs keep coming, with plenty of Thrash to chew on, whether it’s outright speed to conjure up one-man bedroom mosh pits or mid-paced crushers that guarantee you a trip to a chiropractor. The Maiden worship is reprised a couple of times to help tie things together, with more Motörhead influences heard throughout. The final track from the first half is a cover of Judas Priest’s ‘Hellbent For Leather’ and it is solid work. It also helps highlight how much NWOBHM influence is littered throughout the proceedings. This is a faster, more aggressive approach to the song and opts to up the tempo in some sections for a full-on Black/Thrash assault.

The second half of the compilation is taken from the second E.P, Black Moon Sadism. The title track kicks things off with more NWOBHM melodies and mid-paced riff work, before upping the tempo with typical Black/Thrash aggression, with a focus on the Black Metal atmospheres. There’s more chaotic shredding and one riff even contains a bit of a technical edge to it. It isn’t an out-and-out Thrasher, but instead opts to blend all the different styles seamlessly into one. ‘The Cauldron’ however decides to up the speed and the Thrash, bringing you all you could want from a Blackened Thrash rager. The verse riff wouldn’t sound out of place on a Hellripper record, with howling shrieks and guttural gut-bursters contrasting excellently. There’s still some of the Norwegian flavoured Black Metal sprinkled throughout, as shown during the solo section, but it’s used to compliment the insanity of Thrash as opposed to detracting from it. The final track, ‘Billion Dollar Sadist’ is another cover, this time of Turbonegro’s ‘Zillion Dollar Sadist’. It’s vastly different to the Priest cover, and to everything else on the record. It’s faster than the original version, upping the Punk vibes from the original version even further, but don’t expect anything Thrash or even Black Metal about this, bar the vocals. It’s pretty much the original song, but with a tempo change. An odd way to end things, but it’s good to hear where all these different influences are coming from. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear an early Metallica or Exodus cover on the next release by this point.

So, are these First Strikes deadly? The answer is an obvious yes. Remove the covers and look at the original material and it’s clear that Sadistic Force know how to deliver a Black/Thrash assault on the senses. The various influences throughout all merge together well, and most importantly for an album of this kind… It’s fun! When you’re mixing Thrash, Speed, Heavy, Black and Punk, it can all get a bit much if done incorrectly. Songs could meander and sound a little lost, confused. However, such is not the case here. The songs are short, to the point and make sure to pick the strongest parts of each influence and use it to their benefit. The production feels incredibly raw and old school, with gritty, ridiculously over-driven guitars being the focus here. The bass is all about bringing the low-end, with the drums pushed back a little. This is the only real critique I have, they’re sometimes a little too in the background, but it’s a pretty small thing and is obviously an intentional choice to generate that old school, DIY vibe that the Black/Thrash scene has become known for. The vocal performance is solid work, using some mids and lows here and there, plus a few super high shrieks to add a few dynamics to the typical blackened howls that make up the main vocal style. It’d be nice to hear the variety used a little more in the future, but the vocals pack a punch and fit neatly into the music. The covers are decent but may not be for everyone so if you’re here just for the Black/Thrash you know and love, then they wouldn’t be essential listening, though I do think the Priest cover is great stuff.

Overall, it’s an excellent release that will please anyone who loves their Thrash Metal mixed with NWOBHM and Black Metal stylings. I’m excited to see where this project goes in the future, but for now this will have to do. Black/Thrash fans, if you haven’t already, make sure you pick this one up on release. It’s well worth your time.

Sadistic Force – First Strikes – Is available in the UK on Old School Cassette from Mercenary Press – The first pressing is limited to 50 cassettes and will come with a patch and pin! Available from 02/04/2021 https://mercenarypress.bandcamp.com or Digitally on the bands own BandCamp HERE

Iniquity – Five Across The Eyes Re-Issue

Iniquity – Five Across The Eyes Re-Issue

Asa takes a deep dive into the reissue of classic DM from Denmark..

Iniquity are, or I guess WERE, a Technical Death Metal band from Copenhagen, Denmark that formed in 1989 and then split up and got back together more times than that annoying Facebook couple that are always arguing but apparently love each other more than anything (we all seem to have one our social media timelines). They’re also, apparently, the biggest selling Death Metal act to come from Denmark and in 1999, released a genre-defining album called ‘Five Across the Eyes’. I must admit, I hadn’t heard of the band until this review landed in my mailbox but all the information coloured me intrigued. I love Death Metal, especially of the more technical variety, and it’s always exciting discovering forgotten classics. So here we are, 22 years after initial release, ready to dive into a newly re-issued version of this Denmark classic. Strap in folks, things are about to get heavy!

‘Inhale The Ghost’ comes out the gate swinging for the jugular. Punishing blast beats, ferocious riff work and vicious roars all collide, creating frenzied insanity. The track tastefully weaves between fast, technical mayhem and slower, dissonant, progressive lunacy.  These slower sections are great at creating atmosphere and tension that contrasts excellently with the barrage of fire that the faster moments offer up. There’s also some great grooves thrown in too, that don’t sound too dissimilar to what would eventually make Decapitated so popular a couple of years later. Overall, it’s a brilliant, no-holds-barred way to start the album and gives the listener everything they need for them to know whether or not this is for them. Track 2, ‘Surgical orb’, counts us in before blistering speed and technical prowess rip off your face. It continues from where the opener left off, taking no prisoners and switching between riffs in rapid succession. There’s a slow, doom-laden riff towards the end that really stands out as the highlight. It maintains enough of the insanity from everything else but creates some nice atmosphere that clenches your arsecheeks. ‘Sidereal Seas’ starts off slower, with the first guitar solo of the album and some excellent groove. The solo work is well done, mixing enough of the technical shred and slower, melodic layers to please any guitar nerd. Obviously, this can’t last forever though and soon enough, you’re back in the trenches being battered by the unrelenting artillery of savage riffs, manic drums and guttural barks. Another slow riff midway through, but of the more sludgy variety that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Crowbar record. There’s even a dark, acoustic outro, which is also a first for this record.

Don’t worry though in case you thought they were going soft, ‘Random Bludgeon Battery’ is here to do just that. The intensity is non-stop, bludgeoning you until there’s nothing left. Even when it slows down, it still feels like someone is trying to cave your face in with a hammer. The halfway mark on the album is met with ‘From Tarnished Soil’ and it’s pretty much what you’re expecting by this point. Catchy grooves, pulverizing riffs with plenty of technical flair to boot and drums that apparently just wish to turn all your bones to dust. You get the slower, doomy sections that help to break things up and the vocal performance sounds as vitriolic as ever. Track 6 is entitled ‘Reminiscence’ and is a minute long instrumental. It’s got some pianos, choirs, organs and drums and calms things down for a moment. It sounds like something you’d get from an 80’s Italian Horror flick, which is a bonus. After that, are you expecting more melodicism and slow, pretty songs? Because you’re going to be disappointed if you do. ‘Pyres Of Atonement’ aims for the gut and doesn’t look back. It’s an endless onslaught of brutality that twists and turns between moods and tempos faster than Usain Bolt can run.

‘The Rigormortified Grip’ explodes onto the scene before throwing in some maddening riffage that could awaken a million cosmic deities. The whole experience is one long descent into madness, and that extends across the entirety of the album. I’m not even sure if I’m sane writing this. We’ve now reached the penultimate track of the album (and the song that originally ended the album on previous versions), ‘Forensic Alliance’ and, as you can probably guess by now, it’s to the point, in your face and doesn’t wish to pull any punches. The riffs come at you at mind-bending speeds, switching on a dime between tempos and making you question your sanity in the process. I can see why this was the song they decided to end the album on previously because it leaves you feeling devastated after and is one hell of a statement to end things on. However, we have on more track on this re-issue to go through so hold on tight ladies, we’re not quite done yet. ‘Cocooned’ lunges at your neck and holds tightly, suffocating you with its deathlike grip. The riff work is as impressive as ever, with moments of pure what-the-fuck-is-going-on-here absurdity. The slower sections hit just as hard as ever, as if the band are trying their hardest to ensure you don’t leave this experience in one piece. And I can confirm that you don’t. By the time it abruptly ends, you’re left dazed, confused, shocked but also in awe of what you’ve just witnessed.

As you can probably guess, this record is not for the faint of heart. Despite never hearing of this album before, I can understand why this can be considered a cult classic of the scene and is definitely an overlooked gem. Each song is stacked with riffs upon riffs and, despite the intensity of the record, it doesn’t ever really feel boring. There’s always something to grab your attention. There are plenty of moments where I was just like, “what the actual fuck?!”, but in the best possible way. There’s plenty of rhythmic variety in each track, always twisting and contorting until the eventual hysteria consumes you. Even when the songs slow down, there’s an air of madness to the doom and gloom. The album feels like a Lovecraftian nightmare come to life and it’s impressive how much talent there is. Sure, the songs all feel a little repetitive at times but it’s not enough to drag you out of the overall experience. And that is the key word here: This IS an experience. The first listen is the most shocking but after that, repeated listens really help you pick apart the riffs and it makes for a more invested listen that bares some fruitful rewards for your time. 

The performances here are all spot on. Jesper is machine on the drums, able to switch between an outright pummeling with a barrage of blast beats, double bass kicks and scat beats, to dialing things back when he needs to, allowing the songs a little room to breathe. Brian and Mads are incredibly talented guitar players and work well as a tight unit, providing razor sharp precision executing music as technically proficient and blistering fast as this can be difficult but they make it seem like it was done with ease. Mads vocals are also executed well, though they’re pretty much one monotonous roar. A little more variety is always welcome in my eyes but it’s Death Metal, so this is kind of what I expect. Still, they’re excellent and you can really feel the anger and hate behind them. Thomas has some impressive Bass chops and provides some much-needed heft to the riffs but also plays a great role in offering up dynamics, utilizing the instrument in ways that can make certain riffs pop differently. You could be forgiven for expecting the production to be sloppy, however that is not the case. Everything is clear to the ear and works in perfect harmony. You don’t have to sit there and try and pick out what is going on because it’s all very easy to hear. The guitar tones are sharp, the drums sound monstrous and the bass is plenty of shine to it. There’s still an organic feel to the proceedings but the crisp production works to benefit the album.Overall, this is an incredible album for fans of Technical and Progressive Death Metal. There’s a lot to dig into that you could spend weeks, even months, dissecting it all. When it’s fast and technical, it’s like a maelstrom of violence, dragging you deeper into its blood-soaked depths. When it slows down, there’s a layer of unease, uncertainty… Something feels slightly off with its doomy atmospherics that contrasts well with the harshness of the violent eruptions that make up the backbone of the album. There’s some mind-bending dissonant riff work littered throughout the proceedings that will leave you in a state of amazement, but also as if you’re on the verge of losing your mind. Plus you have plenty of neck-wrecking grooves that I’m sure will conjure up more than a few windmilling headbangers to lose their collective shit. Everything is so fluid that the abrupt tempo shifts feel natural, a testament to the incredible musicianship on display. Sure, 45 minutes of almost non-stop chaos sounds a bit much, and for some it may be, but if you’re a fan of the genre then this is a treat that you’ll want to savor every last minute of. Repeated listens are warranted, and you grow to appreciate the album further upon doing so.

This is another forgotten classic that deserves a place on the shelves of every self-respecting Death Metal fan. It’s complex, in your face and often unforgiving in its relentless attempt to smother the listener, but it’s what makes the album feel as special as it does. Even in modern Death Metal, you just don’t get something quite like this anymore. Also, if you’re a fan of this album and want to explore a couple of other forgotten gems, I highly recommend Creepmime’s 1995 Prog-Death masterpiece ‘Chiaroscuro’ and Disincarnate’s 1993 Technical Death Metal extravaganza ‘Dreams Of The Carrion Kin

Summoning The Lich – United In Chaos

Summoning The Lich – United In Chaos

Asa takes a deep dive into chaos as he summons the Lich!

Summoning The Lich, for those unfamiliar with the band, are a Melodic Death Metal band from St. Louis, Missouri. Formed in 2017, the band have released a demo and 2 singles, all of which has been leading up to this full-length. The band is made up of David Bruno (Vocals), Ryan Felps (Guitars), John Flynn (Bass) and TJ Chilton (Drums) and are currently signed to Prosthetic Records. Now that the introduction is out of the way, I guess you’re wondering what the band sound like. Well, if their marketing campaign is anything to go by, they like to describe themselves as a “coked-up Black Dahlia Murder” and honestly, before I even dive into this album, that’s a pretty solid indication of whether or not you think this album will be for you. However, if you’re still reading, then I’m assuming you’re at least somewhat intrigued by the band so let’s get to the riffs and see if this album is a Black Dahlia Stunner or a Black Dahlia Borer.

‘The Nightmare Begins’ opens things up with dark chords that has a slightly Black Metal tinge to it. You’re then pummeled with blast beats, tremolo picked riffs and high shrieks before the more classic Melodic Death Metal riffing takes over. It’s here that the Black Dahlia comparisons become blatantly clear as the switching between the low grunts and high screams are almost identical the Trevor Strnad’s vocals. However, they do change things up midway through with a disgustingly heavy slamming breakdown that showcases Bruno’s rather insane vocal range, with gutturals and pig squeals thrown in and some nice use of almost clean-ish vocals adding some atmospheric layering that shows that this isn’t just straight Dahlia worship. It gives the band their own dynamic to play with, showing us that they can deliver brutality and melody in equal parts to punishing effect. There’s some great melodic lead work too from Felps that has a slightly neo-classical edge to it, providing a little bit of a shreddy fix for you guitar nerds out there. As an opener, it slams you in the gut then sucker punches you after, giving the listener a great taste of what is to come. And fear not because if you dig this, then there’s plenty left for you to chew on.

The second track is much of the same for the most part, with dark tremolo picking accompanied by blast beats, technical yet melodic riffs and savage breakdowns. However, the intro is incredibly atmospheric with use of dissonant melodies and croaking vocals that aren’t too dissimilar to that of Dagon’s from Inquisition. The chorus is rather catchy and Flynn gets to show us some of his rather impressive Bass chops. It’s a good continuation from where we left off, offering some new approaches to their sound yet keeping the core very much intact. ‘The Gatekeeper’ is a slower affair, with chugging riffs and a strong focus on atmospheric choruses, with increases in tempo to up the energy and more crushing breakdowns to get bodies slamming. ‘Demon Of The Snow’ is business as usual. Fast melodic riffs with a technical edge, slower tremolo picked riffs, blast beats and some impressive lead work, with Bruno’s vocals being the intense cherry to top it all off. ‘Predatory Reflection’ is much of the same but utilizing more of the atmospheric and dissonant aspects of their sound and once again showcasing more impressive Bass playing. And of course, bringing back the filthy breakdowns, in case you were worried they had forgotten about them.

We’ve reached the halfway point and we’re greeted with a barrage of ‘Acid Reign’ (not that Acid Reign, before you ask. I don’t think H is making an appearance on this any time soon). It’s the perfect blend of everything they’ve done before, almost a greatest hits collection of brutality. The title track has a moody, almost clean intro, with distorted chords, slow paced drums and the vocals come in to set the scene. After that, it’s straight to blistering speeds and unrelenting aggression. The chorus reprises the intro, and we’re even showered with some straight up Black Metal darkness at the mid-point before a rather delicious Bass solo. It’s one of the highlight tracks as it has a lot to offer the listener and doesn’t just constantly bombard you with sheer intensity. If that sounds awful to you though then don’t worry, because ‘Descend’ goes straight for the jugular and doesn’t just tear at it, it completely savages it and then throws it in the gutter. Speed and ferocity is the name of the game here, so just strap in and hold on tight as the maelstrom of riffs suffocate you in their all-consuming heaviness.

‘Hymns (Of The Witches Of The West)’ slows things down a touch, but don’t take that as a time to take a quick breather. Regardless of the tempo the band opts to play at, the vehemence of their songwriting is relentless. Switching between faster, melodic sections and slower atmospheric refrains is this bands greatest strength, and this track has both of those in spades. ‘Death Crystal’ is the shortest song on the album so it’s not surprising that it cuts to the chase. There’s nothing you haven’t heard the band do before already, but it’s a short, swift kick to the nuts that is all about forward momentum. The penultimate track, ‘Temple Of The Bone’, is more business as usual. You want speed? Sure! You after crushing chugs to ensure you need a neck brace soon after? They’ve got you covered! Dark, haunting melodies that could make the coldest of men weep? No problem! It’s all here and on full display. And it’s now that we’ve reached the end of our journey, with the final track making sure it ends the album just as destructively as it began. ‘The Lure Of The Necromancer’ gives you everything the band has in their arsenal, a storm of fire hailing down until nothing is left. Most final tracks opt for a big, epic affair but this is purely about maintaining the unrivalled stopping power this album possesses. In fact, it’s more focused on punishing you than any other track on here with the ruthless ferocity of the riffs hitting harder than ever. And then it just ends. No flowery, 10 minute outro. No final gasp for air or sweet little refrain. Just a vicious bludgeoning leaving you with blunt force trauma. It’s ballsy, and exactly the kind of ending an album this unrelenting needs.

Now that the album is over, it’s time for some final thoughts. Firstly, I want to commend the performances on this album. It’s absolutely ridiculous how much talent these guys have, and everyone is on form, firing on all cylinders throughout the whole run time. The guitars are tight despite the technical nature of the riffs, the bass is insane, the drums are next level pulverizing and the vocals are wild with an awful lot of variety. The songs are well crafted too, with lots of little layers and switching between tempos and emotions is seamless. The whole album is one fluid motion of extremity. The production is top notch stuff, with everything sounding clean and allowing the surgically precise performances to stand out. Everything is audible and it’s an incredibly crisp final product. Some people may prefer the more DIY, dirty type of sound but for music this intricate, with so many different things happening and with the speed and technicality being so off the charts, it’s pretty much mandatory for the production to be this way, otherwise everything would get lost and you wouldn’t be able to appreciate what is happening anywhere near as much.

With that out the way though, I guess it’s time to get to some of the stuff people may struggle with. Firstly, this album is 12 tracks long. The tracks even out to roughly 4 minutes each so it’s not really that long in total length, but I think just seeing the 12 tracks and knowing how intense this experience is may put some people off. Then there’s the fact that there’s quite a lot of more Slam/Deathcore influences thrown in, which may also be off putting for others. There’s certainly little to no Thrash on this release so I wouldn’t go in expecting that as you will be sorely disappointed. I think the biggest thing though is that the songs don’t have much variety. To some, that’s completely fine but to others… I can imagine that it might get boring very quickly and that discerning when a new track begins could be overwhelming, especially when you couple this with just how relentless and extreme the album is. It’s a lot to digest and it all comes at you with rapid ferocity. There’s not time to breathe, to gather your thoughts or to try and collect yourself. And I can understand how this will just be too much for some, because it was at times a little much for me. I like to listen to the albums I review quite a lot before doing the actual review in order to give everything a chance but sometimes, this listen was a bit tough to get through in one sitting and it meant it took longer to do the review.

However, with all of that said and done, this is a pretty damn incredible album. The slamming breakdowns aren’t always for me, but they’re used to devastating effect. The riffs are the right mix between technical prowess and melodic flair, with atmosphere and moody dissonance aplenty. This is 12 tracks of pure extremity and it’s completely shameless in that regard. I’m almost fairly certain that this album would gladly destroy the cosmos if given half the chance, such is the destructive nature of this behemoth. It’s a lot to endure but it’s ultimately worth it and is something that I know a lot of people will enjoy, especially if you’re a big Black Dahlia fan like I am. If you want your Melodeath married with technical precision, slamming brutality and blackened atmospherics, then I highly recommend checking this one out. You won’t be disappointed.

Summoning The Lich – United In Chaos is released via Prosthetic Records on the 26th February 2021

Tortured Demon – In Desperation’s Grip

Tortured Demon – In Desperation’s Grip

Asa reviews the new album by Tortured Demon

Tortured Demon don’t need much introduction if you’ve been following us for a while, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. The Mancunian metallers formed in 2018, released a demo song and a single (The Invasion – Demo and Cold Blood) in 2020 and then another single at the beginning of 2021 (A Knee To The Face Of Corruption), all building up to this album. The band is made up of Jacob Parkinson (Guitar/Lead Vocals), Joe Parkinson (Drums) and Freddie Meaden (Bass/Backing Vocals) and are currently between the ages of 14-16. They’re one of the UK’s most promising young bands so it’s safe to say there is a decent amount of hype behind this album.

Clean guitars steeped in brooding darkness start things off, with piano and additional strings layered to hype you for the riffs to come. It’s a mood setter and an effective one at that. After a minute, the first riff slams you into the ground. ‘In Desperation’s Grip’ is a thrashing affair that blends new and old together seamlessly, with groove and harmonics adding flavour to this riff salad. The chorus is brutal and it’s easy to imagine a crowd chanting along to the lyrics. The middle section goes straight into old school Thrash territory with mid-paced fury and gang shouts that’ll ignite pits in every venue across the UK. One last flurry of intensity and we’re done. ‘Cold Blood’ is a song I’ve already reviewed but if the opening title track is Thrash monster with Core leanings, then this one is the exact opposite. It’s slower, more melodic, has clean vocals in the chorus and has some savage breakdowns. It speeds up during the middle section to ensure full on pit carnage but this one will get more people two-stepping than it will get them circle-pitting. It’s a great contrast to the first track and shows you to the two different styles they’re drawing from and how they’re planning on utilizing the strengths of both.

‘A Knee To the Face Of Corruption’ blends the two styles together more seamlessly, providing an intro riff that could easily be featured on an early Slipknot release, Death/Thrash riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on a Trivium or Sepultura album and the Hardcore-infused stomp of the chorus will be pounded into your skull by the time the song ends. There’s a Metalcore breakdown thrown in that could demolish venues and some monstrous grooves to top off this savage behemoth. ‘The Invasion’ kicks you in the chest with Thrash riffs galore and some punishing blastbeats. The chorus is melodic and anthemic in scope, it’s sure to earworm it’s way into your brain. More disgustingly heavy breakdowns for the Core lovers out there and the first solo of the album has all the shreddy goodness you could ask for. The gang chants of “KILL!” will get the crowds going and obviously draw some comparisons to ‘Creeping Death’, although this time it’s followed up by some neck-snapping groove and soaring melodies. One final breakdown accompanied by more melodic leads allows for one final sucker punch.

Gigantic chords announce the arrival of ‘Sufferers Of The New Plague’, before we’re pummeled by the ferocious verse. The chorus brings some Death Metal flavour to the proceedings, with the middle chorus offering us some more monstrous grooves. The clean vocals make a return with some excellent melodic guitar work, before we’re greeted with another shredfest guitar solo. The ending breakdown, with all it’s Hardcore might, could level cities and leaves us in the dust. ‘Usurper’ brings the Nu-Metal, feeling like an outtake left on the cutting room floor for Machine Head’s ‘The Burning Red’. The verse will get people jumping and bodies slamming, whilst the chorus is destined for sing-along greatness. The bouncy groove of the middle section breakdown ensures two-stepping mayhem. Nu-Metal isn’t my cup of tea but these guys do it well and I can’t deny that it’s catchy fun to listen to, adding a nice change of pace to the album. ‘Cut The Budget… Cut Your Throat’ brings back the speed with furious aggression. The verse is made for circle pits and the chorus is chant worthy angst that goes for the throat (pun intended). There’s another solo during the middle section, keeping energy levels high. It’s a short, intense listen that is perfect for live shows.

‘Oppressed’ follows the same trend, going for pure speed and aggression. The thrashing brutality will give your neck a workout and leaves you feeling exhausted (in a good way). The chorus brings us punky attitude, with the mid-tempo middle providing melodic grooves. The song then does a complete 180 and erupts into a destructive breakdown, ending the song as we attempt to catch our breaths. The final track is entitled ‘My Terror’, and it begins with clean guitars steeped in brooding darkness, bringing the album full circle. It has a ‘Burn My Eyes’ era Machine Head vibe it before we’re thrown into the speed and visceral hatred of the verse. The chorus uses the clean vocals to haunting effect, contrasting with the vitriolic delivery of the harsh vocals. The middle section has another Hardcore infused breakdown before the calm refrain of melodic clean guitars engulfs you. The clean melody turns distorted, with huge power chords and melodic clean vocals adding to the somber affair. It’s a good way to end the album, which has often been a full-on assault of the senses and allows you time to reflect on the listening experience before you decide to push the replay button once more.

Tortured Demon have come out the gates swinging with all their might. Thrashcore is a hard thing to pull off but these guys do it well. They wear their influences on their sleeve and are not afraid of throwing in curveballs when they see fit. However, this isn’t just a tribute to the bands they love. They’ve managed to create a sound that feels very much their own within the Thrash and Metalcore scenes and it’s refreshing to hear something that is a little more unique and that isn’t afraid of taking a few risks. The song writing is solid, and all the songs serve their purpose. For seasoned Thrash fans this may not appeal so much to your tastes but with a few listens you may appreciate what these young lads from Oldham are trying to do. The performances are excellent across the board, with Joe’s drumming being a particular highlight. This guy may be one of the best drummers in the UK scene and he adds so much to the band, it’s a powerhouse performance. Jacob’s vocals may not be for everyone as you can tell they’re not quite as consistent or powerful as a more seasoned vocalist but they’re solid for the most part, with his lows being gut-wrenching stuff and his high screams, though sparse, are incredibly intense. You know that he’s just going to get stronger through the years and I’m excited to see where he takes his vocal prowess next. The cleans may also be off-putting for some but they add another layer to the band. They’re sometimes used melodically, and other times used to create an atmosphere, both of which are executed to a decent level. I’d like to see them utilize the higher ranges more in the future, but they’re still a welcome change here. The guitar and bass performances are tight, and the production is great stuff. There’s a real raw, gritty, DIY feel to it yet everything is well mixed. The different layers aren’t trying to fight each other but instead work in harmony to create a listening experience everyone can enjoy.

Overall, this is a solid debut from one of the UK’s most promising bands. There’s plenty of Thrashing intensity, but all the hallmarks of great Metalcore are thrown in for good measure. There are some risks taken throughout but they pay off and make for welcome changes in pace, while also showing off the writing chops these guys have. The only thing I’d really like to see in the future is taking the risks even further and for both vocalists to use more of their ranges because they have the chops to do so. And honestly, if that’s the main takeaway from this review then I think that speaks for itself. Tortured Demon may not be a band for the old school Thrashers, but they’re the band that show us that the future of Thrash, and Metalcore, is still very, very bright. The 0161 has produced yet another stellar band, and these guys are going to go far if they keep up this quality of work. 

In Desperation’s Grip is released Friday the 5th February HERE or On Spiritual Beast in Asia

Seven Doors – The Gates Of Hell

Seven Doors – The Gates Of Hell

Somewhere through the mists of the New Orleans swamps looms the Seven Doors hotel, a portal to realms of ungodly suffering. It is just one of three known gateways to hell, though seven exist. It also happens to be home to punishing Old School Death Metal too. Seven Doors is the Death Metal solo project of Ryan Wills, a man best known to UK Black Metal fans as the guy that does the sick shreddy stuff in Deadwood Lake and Wolves In Exile. If the name wasn’t a big giveaway already, the music is based on cult classic Horror’s of the 70’s and 80’s, most notably the works of the Italian Godfather of Gore, Lucio Fulci. After releasing a stand alone single in October 2020, entitled ‘The Nights Of Terror’, Seven Doors follow up to pay loving respect to Fulci’s most acclaimed, and notorious, body of work… The Seven Doors Trilogy.

‘Into The Tombs’ opens with a sample taken from the first film in the trilogy (The City Of The Living Dead), before descending into maddening melodies and huge chords. The song hits like a drill to the temple, with a variety of savage riffs to satiate even the thirstiest of riff lover’s needs. The opening tremolo picking riff is bound to get bodies slamming, with slower sections sending you to A&E in need of a neck brace. The chorus is as catchy as Death Metal can be, with heaps of groove and Ryan’s raspy caveman lows suitably disgusting for the music. The list of influences ranges from old school bruisers such as Gorguts or Asphyx, to modern day heavyweights like Skeletal Remains and Blood Incantation, choosing the best parts from all of them to create an audible nightmare, the perfect backdrop considering the lyrical content. And, of course, there’s some fine lead work on display with an incredible solo that is fast and shreddy but maintains a sense of melody that helps elevate Ryan’s lead writing chops above most in the country (ask any Deadwood Lake fan and they’d tell you the same). The song reprises the intro melody before leading into a clean guitar homage to Fabio Frizzi’s ‘Irrealtá Di Suoni’, which is taken from the film’s soundtrack. It’s the perfect way to start the E.P, showing you exactly what Seven Doors are about.

The mid-tempo uppercut of ‘Blinding Horrors’ makes for the perfect neck muscle workout, bringing out the inner Corpsegrinder in all of us. The riff work is infectious, laying the perfect foundation for Fulci’s masterpiece, The Beyond, to get the audio love affair it deserves. The middle section riff has an almost Doom vibe to it, bringing in some dissonant bends to perfectly encapsulate the fever dream nightmarish quality of the film. The speed picks up a touch during the solo section, where we are treated to slower, more melodic affair compared to the previous song, though there’s still some sweep picking in there towards the end for those fearing you may not get the shred fix you need. The song ends with the chorus leading into a distorted version of ‘Verso L’Ignoto’, taken from the film’s soundtrack, once again composed by Fabio Frizzi. These little nods to the music of the films help to tie up this neat Fulci package and are great little easter eggs for fans of the films.

The final track goes straight for the jugular, with tremolo picked riffs and devastating blast beats. ‘Cellar Dweller’ is all about The House By The Cemetery and Dr. Freudstein’s reign of terror (and also Bob’s reign of terror on the audience’s ear drums), shoveling riff after riff down our throats, with fast sections capable of whipping up hurricanes and the slower moments opting to pummel you in the face until you’re left feeling battered and bruised. The slamming chorus hits harder than a truck made of lead, the verse blitzes everything in its path with ferocious speed and the solo being suitably manic, providing the shredfest we desire but with a melodic touch that gives it an edge. The constant switches in tempo add to the madness and envelops the listener in Fulci’s blood-soaked world. The song ends with a final rasp of “Fulci lives!”, a statement that Seven Doors fully back-up.

Seven Doors have hit the ground running with this release, blending old school and modern Death Metal flavours together to devastating effect, and tying it all up with the gore-drenched horrors of Lucio Fulci’s demented work. The riffs in all three songs is top tier stuff and with the constant change in tempos and variety, you won’t ever find yourself getting bored. It’s a short but punchy listen that does a Dicky and goes straight for the throat, tearing it to bloodied shreds in the process. Ryan’s vocals are exactly the kind of low, raspy bellows the music requires, adding to the atmosphere of the music, with the addition of Frizzi’s music being the cherry on top of a perfect cake. The performances are as good as they come, with everything sounding tight and locked in, which adds to the overall huge sound the E.P possesses. The bass tone is chunky and slightly dirty, the guitars are crisp and clear but maintain plenty of bite and the drums sound organic and pulverizing, adding to the old school aesthetic. The production is also noteworthy stuff as it sounds like it came from the early 90’s Death Metal scene with it’s raw, gritty savagery in full display. Nothing outshines each other in the mix and the clean sound makes everything is easy to pick out. Overall, this is a solid debut release that will please every Death Metal fan, new or old. If you’re looking for a quick slab of brutality, set against a backdrop of crumbling zombies, vomiting entrails, face-munching tarantulas and twisted undead experiments then this is the perfect release for you. Fulci does indeed live, and Seven Doors are here to spread the word.

Seven Doors The Gates Of Hell is released on Friday the 29th Jan 2021 and available on BandCamp https://sevendoorsdm.bandcamp.com/releases