Desaster – Churches Without Saints

Frank heads to Germany to check out the new album by Desater..here’s what he thought…

After a five year wait, German blackened thrash veterans “Desaster” return with a new release in the form of “Churches without Saints” the ninth full length release from a near 33 year career.

 The teutonic pioneers of this style of extreme metal bring forth 46 minutes of violence,death,pain and destruction at a near non stop pace.

 Drawing you in with a intro that’s calm and sedate, then the violence ascends immediately from the beginning of “Learn to love the Void” a pure old school “Destruction” style thrash number with a hint of black metal in the bridge, but with an incredible double bass drum attack from new (if you can call 3 years in the band new) recruit “Hont” making his debut recording with the band. “Hont’s” drumming stays consistently impressive throughout the whole album, almost being the main ingredient holding everything together. Throwing in a few lines in their native German is always a winner, shame more German bands don’t do it, but more about that later.

 More 1980’S thrash bleeds through on “Failing Trinity” with its catchy headbanging riff orchestrated by the heavy bass line once again delivered by band stalwart “Odin” who delivers with competence like a seasoned professional of 30 years experience should.

 Things take a decidedly more blackened approach with “Exile is Imminent” the intro is maybe the wrong choice to introduce the song but once the main riff kicks in, accompanied by the aforementioned double bass attack it is pure Carpathian forest blackness. Add to that the near death metal guttural roar of vocalist “Satanic”  you have a near perfect blackened thrash track. 

 “Churches without Saints” the title track is almost out of place on the album, it slows things down with a dark atmospheric look at religion and all of its faults. This track is almost Doom with its delivery and would not be amiss on a “Paradise Lost” album. Although I feel there is something missing that would have brought it to the fore as a title track.

 We are back to the thrash with “Hellputa” a no holds barred track that bares its teeth delivered with power speed and aggression. A short sharp shock of a song that would definitely get a pit opened up at a live show. We are then firmly back in blackened territory with “Sadistic Salvation” which delivers lyrically. Definitely a song with a nod towards the mighty Venom while summoning beelzebub himself.   

“ Armed Architects of Annihilation” delivers like an iron bar being smacked across your face. With its shredding riffs tearing into your senses in an unrelenting barrage, this is pure thrash metal. “Primordial Obscurity” falls back into the blackened variety of thrash with an orchestral sounding riff then changes pace to a slower riff with deep groove midsection before picking up speed again to finish you off. Its a track that would slip easily into almost any of the “Desaster”  back catalogue as it the track that resembles what they have produced before.

 The obligatory or so it may seem acoustic guitar opening arrives on “Endless Awakening”. A bit more mid tempo than most tracks on the album, almost brooding as it goes along, it relies on the heavy element rather than all out speed. To finish the album, the band chose a strange outro “Aus Asche ”. It is so completely left field. It’s a slimmed down “Rammstein” europop metal song with hushed vocals spoken in German. Worth a listen out of curiosity but definitely one to skip over if it’s not your thing.

 There is plenty of light and shade in this record, a balanced variation on a theme, enough for a purist thrasher to enjoy while perhaps not delving as deep into the blackened element of thrash we have seen on previous records released by “Desaster”. Vocaly Satanic has firmly sided on the more death element to he’s range. Whereas previously he was never afraid to change style to suit a certain song.

 The production is a deviation from the harsh element of 2016’s “ The Oath Of An Iron Ritual” . With a smoother dare I say softer result. Production and mix duties fell to “Jan Gensheimer” who has helped deliver a full sound especially with a constantly changing guitar style from allout thrash to black metal.

 Blackened thrash as genre is ever evolving as it takes influences from a multitude of directions that helps keep it fresh sounding. Although not their best work “Desaster” have delivered another record they can be proud of. 

 Overall “Churches without Saints” is a very welcome return for this influential band. It was released on all formats by the legendary Metal Blade label on June 4th.

https://desaster.bandcamp.com/

https://www.metalblade.com/us/artists/desaster/

The Day of The Beast – Indisputably Carnivorous

Hutch checks out the latest horror filled offering from US Blackened Metallers, The Day Of The Beast, here’s what he thinks…

Newly signed to Prosthetic Records, Virginia Beach blackened death metallers The Day of the Beast’s fourth full-length is not one for summer evenings in the garden whilst drinking a crisp white vintage. This is nasty, snarling and designed to summon darkness. 

It’s their first release since 2017’s The Ultimate Cremation Pyre, and if you haven’t grasped what they sound like after these two album titles, you need your head cleaned out. This is 45 minutes of grotesque claws raking your back, filthy guttural roaring voices, searingly hot guitars and powerful drumming that could summon up old Nick himself. 

It’s an album that should give you nightmares. Each track revolves around its own specific tale or theme, with inspiration coming from the likes of Clive Barker, Bram Stoker, and Lovecraft. The album name is taken from the Graham Masterson novel The Wells of Hell, and the title track is primarily based on that book.

About as subtle as two elephants humping, Corruptor Infestor kicks things off at breakneck speed, and the accelerator is not lifted until On Wyverns Wings of Oblivion has come to a final stop. In between, you get some of the gnarliest, blackest and fiercest death thrash that has been released this year. There’s an underlying groove that is reminiscent of latter-day Carcass, with the throaty rasp of Steve Harris at times reminiscent of Jeff Walker. That’s no bad thing in my book.

The lyrics are as gruesome as the music is black. Enter The Witch House for example, echoes with the chilling refrain: ‘Light up the oven, a feast for the coven, their parents search high and low The first ones to cry are the first ones to die, the rest are locked up in the basement below The ones who survive are then roasted alive, until the meat falls off the bone The gristle and fat will be fed to the rats, and the organs are fed to the crows’.

The subject matter may leave the bones chilled but the music is brutal but excellently executed. The dual guitars of Steve Redmond and Bobby Phippins are solidly supported by the blistering drumming of Jeremy Bradley and bassist Justin Shaw. An aural assault that shows no mercy, this album is another addition to the continuing list of blackened thrash outfits who are rising from the graves once more. 

THE DAY OF THE BEAST – INDISPUTABLY CARNIVOROUS is out Friday the 18th via Prosthetic Records and the bands BandCamp

Bewitcher –Cursed Be Thy Kingdom

Hutch takes a journey to Portland to check out some new Blackened Thrash from Bewitcher

The third album from Portland’s Bewitcher and their first for Century Media, Cursed Be Thy Kingdom is a gnarly, gritty,and filthy under the fingernails type of record. For the history buffs, Bewitcher formed in 2013 as a duo, the enigmatic M. Von Bewitcher (vocals and guitars) and bassist A. Magus then recruited drummer A. Hunter. Two albums, the self-titled debut (recorded by Toxic Holocaust main man Joel Grind)and 2019’s Under theWitching Crosshave been spawned and are no doubt worth exploring. Cursed Be Thy Kingdomis mixed by Cameron Webb (Motörhead, Megadeth) and recorded by Armand John Anthony (Night Demon), and the sound is excellent throughout. From the misleading intro, the acoustic Ashe,which doesn’t provide any hint of the ferocious storm to come, through to the closing track Sign of the Wolf, this is a roller coaster ride which often sits more closely to classic heavy metal, albeit the faster elements of the genre and with a dirtier groove. Inevitably there is a huge range of influences that scream out at you as the album develops.

The rawness of Venom is ever present, although there is more than a serving of early Children of Bodom (especially on Death Returns). Elsewhere, the likes of Chrome Division and Motörhead are also evident. But don’t let that put you off, because this is a fierce record that rarely pauses for breath. It’s punky in attitude, aggressive enough to please those of the harder persuasion and with ample thick and heavy riffs.The tracks rarely slow, the pace frenetic and the feel one of a crazed runaway ride with no stopping mechanism! It’s only when Bewitcher apply their own brakes that you can draw breath. Highlights include the pacy Widow’s Bladewhich slips into power metal country for a brief but welcome moment, the drilling power of Electric Phantomsand the majestic pomp of Valley of the Ravens. By all accounts this was a bit of a bastard to make. Well, the hard work was worth it, for whatever the state of the world now, this is an album that makes you shake your head, pump your fist,and generally lose your shit. “The goal on this one was to make a classic sounding rock and heavy metal record but filter it through the Bewitcher lens.

It’s more personal and observational in certain spots, but with all the pleasures of flesh, magic, and sin that one could ever expect from Bewitcher.” So commented M. Von Bewitcher. I think the fuckers have nailed it. This works … on every level.

Bewitcher – Cursed Be Thy Kingdom is out of the 16th April on Century Media

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

Wratheon – Black Thrash Mass

Paul Hutchings drags his song suffering goat down to the Black Thrash Mass alter…

‘Black Thrash Mass’? Could this be another blackened thrash metal release by any chance? Oh yes, fear not dear reader, this solo project from American based Wratheon does exactly what it says on the cover and thrashes in true black style. 

16 minutes of icy melodies underpinned by a racing pace that Usain Bolt would fail to match. The five tracks are furiously delivered with a solid production that allows clarity whilst retaining some of the rawness that one would want. Opening songs ‘In Séance’ and ‘The Fire Burns’ blur the traditional boundaries of black metal and thrash, muscular riffage combining with the snarling vocals and creeping coldness. ‘Crimson Eyes’ takes a more traditional route, the vocals throatier and the riffs thicker, whilst the instrumental ‘Life’ reverts more to the dark side with some underlying melodies, punishing blast beats and a deeper feel. Closing song ‘Unescapable Null’ concludes this short EP in dramatic style, epic in feeling and as aggressive as those that have gone before it. 

There’s plenty of potential here. It’s not as accomplished as Hellripper, but Wratheon has delivered an appetiser that leaves you interested in more. It’ll be fascinating to see how he develops, in a genre which is expanding exponentially.

Wrateheon – Black Thrash Mass is officially released on the 25th March, but if you head over to BandCamp you may find it already released….

Maudiir – La Part Du Diable

There is something about a one man Blackened Thrash Attack that always makes me sit up and crank open my ears. And Canada’s one man assault squad ‘Maudiir’ kept them held open whilst squeezing some blackened riffs deep into my brain!

At a little over 24 minutes long this EP sits in the sweet spot, long enough to enjoy, but short enough not to get repetitive or overworked, although to be honest with the variety and tracks on offer, repetitive is not something that is a risk!

Maudiir masters the blackened thrash sound, at times feeling like Megadeth (just listen to the opening of ‘The Slumber’, and other times sounding like Deicide (again ‘The Slumber’.. tell me that doesn’t remind you of Lunatic Of Gods Creation)

But this isn’t a complaint, as those moments of familiarity are only glancing before the tracks head off down 1001 different avenues, pulling musical tricks and riffs from across the spectrum that form a thoroughly enjoyable and cohesive romp through the 5 tracks.

The musicianship is great, vocals are towards the black metal side of the fence, the bass is high and chunky in the mix, the solos are tight and the mix is dirty enough to give that blackened thrash sound but clean enough to let all the instruments breath.

If you are a fan of the latest generation of Blackened Thrashers, like Hellripper, Night Fighter, Devastator, Midnight etc then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this outing!

Maudiir – La Part Du Diable is released tomorrow – February 19, 2021 via BandCamp HERE

Hellfekted – Method Of Destruction (single)

Batten down the hatches and prepare for incoming fire, as Hellfekted stock up the hell tank with evil munitions and have you in their sights!

Yes the Nottingham/Stoke based blackened Thrashers are back with their first new single since releasing ‘Woe To The Kingdom Of Blood’ earlier in 2020, and this is going to tear your head off.

As always with a Hellfekted track, this isn’t for the faint hearted, as the lads take you for a tour of the battlefield in about six and a half minutes, starting with small arms fire and vocalist Liam’s call to arms, before an explosion triggers the launch of the guitars.

Hellfekted 2020

The true assault then truly begins with drums, bass, guitars and vocalist raining down blows into your ears, this isn’t non stop speed though, as the slower sections of the song, really break up the shock tactics of the wailing black metal guitars with some crushingly slow doom-esq sections that add some real menace and foreboding to the track, and give you a feeling that this war may be with an enemy not of this earth!

Whilst have nothing directly in common and they are no copycats, Hellfekted continue to remind me of ‘…in battle there is no law’ era Bolt Thrower, and I’ve no complaints with that!

‘Rip out your eyes too unsee the light’

Method Of Destruction is out on all digital platforms on the 5th December 2020, STREAM NOW