Hellsword – Cold is the Grave 

Hutch finds things not as he thought as he checks out the new Hellsword album…

I assumed that this would be a record with more in common with power metal. Anything with the word sword tends to swing that way. But no, Hellsword are far removed from soaring vocal harmonies and rapid-fire melodic speed. Instead, Hellsword are rooted deeply in the early days of black metal; think Venom, Bathory and Hellhammer.  

Formed in 2009, it’s taken the Slovenian trio of Mark Massakre, Mike Manslaughter and Ironfist over a decade to produce this debut full length release.  Apart from the ridiculous names, there’s plenty to enjoy here despite the lack of originality. It’s well produced, with a raw edge and prototype feel but avoiding that outside toilet production of the early 80s.  

There are plenty of riffs from the Devil’s locker here, with a tempo that varies from blistering speed and thrash to more demonic overtures that slow things down yet retain all the demonic elements you expect. It’s unsurprising that Cold is the Grave features tracks such as Satan, Death and Fear, Baphomet’s Shrine and Unholy Reich – the band are pinning their flag firmly with ol’ Nick after all.  

Whilst Hellsword may not intentionally have done so, they have thrown their hat into the ever increasing ring of blackened thrash that continues to emerge apace. If you like that gnarly, aggressive and full-on aural assault, then Cold is the Grave may well be an album you’ll fancy taking a punt on.   

HellHellsword – Cold is the Grave was released on the 24/09 on Emanzipation Records https://emanzipation.dk/hellsword-cold-is-the-grave/

Domination Campaign – Onward to Glory 

Paul Hutchings reviews the new album by Tasmania death metallers Domination Campaign… when Slayer and Bolt Thrower are both mentioned in a review its gotta be worth reading on..

You can do a lot in 29 minutes. You can listen to Reign in Blood. There. Nothing else needed. But, when former Psycroptic vocalist Jason Peppiatt set out with Domination Campaign, initially as a solo project, I’m sure he had little thought about being compared with the undisputed kings of thrash metal.  

With bandmate Joe Haley on drums and engineering, and Peppiatt bringing guitar, bass and vocals, the Tasmanian death metal offshoot has gone full bore, and produced a startlingly good and ferocious debut release. Technicality may not be as front and centre with Domination Campaign but the hammer to the skull brutality remains and Onwards to Glory leaves little space for alternative options. 

Yes, there is a faint whiff of groove and chug reminiscent of Richmond’s Lamb of God at times, but for me that’s no bad thing. The punishment starts with the blistering Death Before Dishonour, a raging thrasher that grabs both ears and rips them firmly off. Devoid of the ability to wear glasses, you crawl forward, aimlessly groping in the air as Domination Campaign hit with some megalodon sized riffs. As Daylight Breaks brings glacial sized riffage, a series of tempo changes enhancing the song as it dips between bludgeoning concrete crushing passages and higher, more intense segments. To summarise it all, it’s like putting the brain in a blender.  

It’s impossible to miss the comparisons with Bolt Thrower, such is the riffage on songs like The Sniper’s Gaze, a track that could quite easily have sat on recent Memoriam albums, such is the sheer heaviness and punishing riffs that change pace. Peppiatt’s savage vocal delivery works impressively with this relentless barrage. It’s an aural bombardment that you won’t want to stop, such is the huge sound of this creative outlet.  

Recorded in summer 2020, Onward to Glory takes lyrical cues from historical battles, this is an album that should appeal to a wider range of fans than just the death metal diehards. It’s certainly a debut to remember and one that is definitely worth devoting those 29 minutes to.   

Domination Campaign – Onward To Glory is out this Friday the 9th July and available via BandCamp

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

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

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

Vesicarum –Great Decay (Single)

We can always count on Paul Hutchings to turn around a review in record time for us, as he checks out the first single from the upcoming new album due in the summer…

My first exposure to Vesicarum, a five-piece from Kent whose style is unashamedly death metal. Formed in 2016, initially as a solo project by vocalist Glynn Neve, the band released their debut EP Reign of Terror in 2019. Meaning ‘to fester’ in Latin, Vesicarum’s sound certainly lives up to that translation. Filthy, fetid riffs and a sound that makes the skin crawl, I was scratching frantically by the end.

Great Decay is the first single from the band’s debut long-player Place of Anarchy, due out on One Eye Toad Records on 18thJune. Inviting James Dawson of Brighton’s Bleed Again provides a clever contrast with the unique style of Neve whose delivery isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste. Lyrically, Great Decay looks at Neve’s personal struggles with depression and mental health during the past year and is likely to resonate dramatically with many who listen to this single. Neve’s voice sits low, gravel coated and to say the man sings is probably a lie. He spits out the words, the distress and bitterness evident in his tone. Dawson by contrast is energised, raw and ferocious, a snarling pit bull chomping at the bit. 

Musically this is a devastating track that builds slowly, increasing in tempo as the song progresses. Walls of spine-busting riffs, punishing rhythm section and the odd lead break all combine to provide an aural assault that is brutal in delivery and composition. It’s an assault on the aural senses, and one that demonstrates that the Kent outfit’s new album is one that should be very interesting to listen to.

Vesicarum is Glynn Neve–vocals, guitarists Martin Shipton and James Thompson, drummer Donal McGeeand bassist Mark Willson

Vesicarum Great Decay is out NOW go find it!

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

Memoriam – To the End

Neil Bolton, grabs onto something stable as he unleashes the new album by the UK Death Metal legends that make up Memoriam!

Well its a good job I am sat here at my lap top as I listen to Memoriam’s new album “To The End”; I now have to go on a famous internet shopping site to replace my speaker stands as they have just collapsed under the weight of this massive album.

Now signed to Reaper Entertainment, this heavy-weight tank of a band are about to release the first in a second trilogy of albums. This first one, once again has incredible art work from another legend of the scene, Dan Seagrave.

Musically the album begins with drums and guitars leading into Karl pronouncing in his own frightening and motivational “Onwards into battle one more time!” A line which sets the stage perfectly for the kind aggression and power that can be displayed with a slow to mid paced track. Heavy and remorseless this song pounds away, punishing any sound equipment you use to listen to music with. As the track completes, and there is a brief moment to reflect on what I have experienced, I assume the band have peaked at the beginning and can in no way repeat the weight they have created again.

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Track two “This is War” begins and I realise I am incorrect; there is a little more speed thrown in the mix now and the clout continues. Excellent death metal soaks into the mind and body causing a mix of smile and grimace to appear. Further in the album “Failure to Comply” begins with an actual real life recording of the authorities threatening action if compliance is not met, the the pounding once again starts and I am happy to receive it. The enjoyable pummelling carries on through the album whether it is fast, mid-paced or doomy-slow as in “Each Step (closer to the ground)”.

Memoriam do not loose any power at any stage. A six minute monster completes this colossal album with a Niko McBrain drum fill leading us into a track called “As My Heart Goes Cold”. The atmosphere is a little different here. It would be wrong to say it is any lighter than previous tracks, it is not. There is just a more metal and less death feel to this.

Memoriam have produced an album which is heavy as hell; with lyrical content that has both contemporary points and a poignancy to it. I wonder if they make solid concrete speaker stands; as this will be played often.

Memoriam – To The End is released on the 26th March on Reaper Entertainment

The Crown –Royal Destroyer

Paul Hutchings checks out the new release from Swedish Death Metal warriors.. The Crown

Having formed in 1990 as Crown of Thorns, the band became The Crown in 1998, and apart from a break from 2004-09, have delivered high quality death metal for many years. 

2018’s ‘Cobra Speed Venom’ was undoubtedly a highlight in the long career of Swedish death metallers. For me it was possibly the pinnacle of a long and impressive career. Having steered their ship through the pandemic, which included singer Johan Lindstrand contracting the virus, ‘Royal Destroyer’ sees The Crown in robust, visceral form.

It is arguably one of the band’s strongest ever albums. Recorded in a mere six days, it continues from ‘Cobra Speed Venom’ in terms of sheer aggression and performance. The cohesion displayed within the band is impressive, with the Jeff Hannerman tribute ‘Let the Hammering Begin’ coming early and fast. It snarls and rages in typical style with some subtle Slayer homage thrown into the mix. There’s ample variety hidden away when you listen. ‘Ultra Faust’ slows the pace but not the intensity; the fiery thrash of ‘Full Metal Justice’, a damaging three-minute slasher reminds you that this is a band that can and will incite carnage in future shows.

The confidence of The Crown is such that they are unafraid to change style and tempo with ‘We Drift On’, a semi power ballad that is nestled towards the end of the album, but which still carries enough firepower to sit comfortably in the sea of brutality that surrounds it. Lindstrand roars his way throughout, his gravel throated delivery now trademark level recognisable. Thedual guitars of Robin Sörqvist and Marko Tervonen slice ferociously with razor sharp authority and the whole band moves with sledgehammer effectiveness. 30 years and counting.

The Crown may be an underdog in the world of death metal, but believe me, this is a dog with one hell of a bite

The Crown – Royal Destroyer is released via Metal Blade Records on the 12th March 2021

Bloodmores –Too Close to the Sun

Paul Hutchings comes over all Icarus and flies towards the big shiny thing in the sky… will his wings melt before his ears as he checks out the upcoming new album from Bloodmores!

Great Harwood isn’t somewhere I was able to point to on a map of the UK. In fact, I thought it was some poncy town in the home counties with a conservative MP and village fetes. All cream teas and ladies in hats. 

But after twenty secondsof ‘Virulence’, the opening track on Bloodmores second album ‘Too Close to the Sun’ I was reassured. It exploded out of the speakers and attached itself to my lugholes in a manner that only a riff-driven Northern band could do. Reassured, I noted that the band are from the Hyndburn district of Lancashire, which explains the grit and ferocity that oozes through this bludgeoning aural assault. 

Bloodmores comprise Connor Heelis on bass, drummer Chris Mansell and guitarists Richard Jodrelland Alex Cunliffe who also provides the guttural vocal roars. ‘Too Close to the Sun’ is a mighty mixture of thrash and death metal with an underlying groove that should ensure their appeal is wider than merely fans of one genre. There’s a welcome familiarity as you get stuck into this album. ‘Terminal Diagnosis’ and ‘Crypt of the Blasphemous’ have a drive and power that instantly gets the head nodding. If this was being played live, you’d struggle to restrain yourself from diving into the pit. The chugging riffage may be recognisable but Bloodmores have a contemporary style which is fresh and their own.

The switch during the pummelling ‘White Noise’ allows the band to open the throttle all the way and Cunliffe’s growling roars appear to be generated from deeper and deeper. There are times when you are expecting his oesophagus to land on the floor next to you, such is the strain he places on his delivery. Having reached this far into the album, with one ear barely hanging on from the eruptions through the headphones, it was something of a surprise to hear Bloodmores ease back for around 30 seconds, provide a breather before hitting some more massive riffs.

The more you listen to this album, the more you are pinned into your seat. The album may peak time wise with ‘White Noise’ and the title track, the two six-minute plus tracks on the album forming the pyramid in the centre. The latter is an all-out thrashing beast, which draws in influences from several UK thrash outfits and whilst there is clear evidence of influences, (bit of Sylosis creeps in for example), the band retain their own stamp on their music. It’s solid, it’s loud and in your face. It demands you bang your head. 

But then we arrive at the sting in the tail. ‘Suicide Pact’ already released as single number two a couple of weeks ago is a relentless battery which gives no quarter. And the band maintain that intensity for the final three tracks, concluding with yet another bruising assault, the aptly named ‘Defiant to The End’, a final stomp of the size 12s to the face. 

The UK thrash scene continues to pulse with a quality we haven’t seen for years. Bloodmores second album stands loud and proud amongst their peers. One to watch, and more importantly to buy when it is released.

Bloodmores – Too Close To the Sun is out on the 26th March 2021 and available to pre-order on BandCamp as digital or physical copes, plus some nice new Merch HERE