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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Hellspawn (Pol) - There Has Never Been a Son of Me

Artist: Hellspawn (Pol)
Release Title: There Has Never Been a Son of Me
Year: 2016
Label: Old Temple
Genre: Old-School Death Metal
1. Do Not Be Among Idolatres
2. Hung on a Tree, Damned by His Father
3. Antitrinitarian
4. For the Number Is Human
5. Hallelujah
6. Heralded by Prophets
7. Upon Entering the Valley They Did Not Fear
8. It Is Not Proper for the Gracious to Have a Son
9. Santa Sindone
10. There Has Never Been a Son of Me

Utterly crushing their old ideals, the Polish death metallers under the name Hellspawn have long sought to offer infernal, blasting hymns that used their full-on, intense assault that has been their trademark since the very beginning of their career. With a four-year gap between releases from the band, their third full-length effort was released March 16, 2016 on Old Temple.

Straight from the beginning, there’s a clear idea of the kind of blistering and charging material on display here that continually gets featured. This one is mostly built around tight, frantic riffing and plenty of swirling tremolo patterns in their display of churning mid-tempo paces throughout here, which gives this one such a frantic and intense attack. Keeping the vast majority of the album in such a mainly up-tempo state lets the tight rhythms and crushing tremolo leads dance around to great effect here as the thick riff-patterns generate the kind of intense energy required. That is successfully balanced out by a thumping mid-tempo style that really brings out the tight rhythms to a greater extent that the quicker, more balanced tracks that are far more prominent on here and bring about the kind of dynamics that really get explored here. Although it gets really enjoyable due to this rather strong attack, the fact that it does tend to get lost in these repetitive riffing patterns and paces does tend to undue some of these positives with the album really becoming quite hard to determine what’s going on with the way it continually evokes the same overall approach on many of the tracks. However frenzied and intense it gets, this one tends to go the same way with its attack and that doesn’t do much for the album. Otherwise, this one doesn’t really have much else wrong with it.

Coming across way too familiar to really let the stellar attack get displayed to it’s fullest potential, the fact that remaining features here are so strong and devastating makes this another strong notch in their belt and gives this a lot of appeal to those who prefer this infernal approach to classic death metal.

Score: 87/100

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Sargatanas (Mex) - The Enlightenment

Artist: Sargatanas (Mex)
Release Title: The Enlightenment
Year: 1999 (2017 reissue)
Label: Conquistador Records (Old Temple reissue)
Genre: Old-School Black/Death Metal
1. Eternal Darkness
2. Fear and Suffering
3. The Proclamation
4. Diatribe of the Occult
5. Ritual of the Advent
6. Satan's Curse (Possessed cover)
7. Satanist
8. Veneration of the Black Mark in the Ancestral Forest
9. Doom of Fire
10. Sargatanas
11. Blessed Are the Sons of the Black Flame
12. The Enlightenment

Formed back in 1986, long-running Mexican black/death legends Sargatanas have taken plenty of time to settle on their first professional output as the constant crop of musicians have halted their legacy until the mid-90s when their first demo releases were released. Now finally prepared for their first proper release, the groups’ debut full-length effort was released in 1999 by Conquistador Records before a reissue February 10, 2017 on Old Temple.

Churning out plenty of viciousness, the group display quite a profound and determined understanding of their sound right off the bat on this release. The vast majority of the album contains plenty of slow, lethargic riff-work utterly drowning in old-school tremolo style rhythms, letting this one evoke a truly chilling and darkened atmosphere by droning on through their patterns here. The agonizing patterns, featuring plenty of majestic rhythms and sprawling sections generate the kind of plodding pace that stands out here especially once the album kicks up slightly. These are mainly based on featuring the tremolo riff-work and pounding drum-work in a far more up-tempo and energetic series of patterns that offer a strong dynamic variety against the plodding rhythms here, and with the whole affair completely draped in that raw, churning atmosphere it works so well to its advantage. However, one of the biggest issues here is the fact that this one is just so overlong and bloated that it becomes somewhat of a chore to get through. There comes a point in the later half where it all starts blending into a blur of rather hard-edged but still repetitive tremolo riffing and churning rhythms that sound way too similar to stand-out. Given that this one contains way too many songs for its own good in that format is what ultimately ends up bringing this one down as well since there’s no real reason why it had to be this lengthy and could’ve cut out a few tracks to make it less obvious. Still, for a debut, this isn’t that bad.

While there are way too many repetitive moments here because it’s filled to bursting with too many elements it didn’t need from having so many tracks throughout here, the fact that for the most part it’s still a devastating and dynamic offering makes this a choice look for those that love that raw, old-school black/death metal style.

Score: 82/100

Monday, June 19, 2017

Lectern - Precept of Delator

Artist: Lectern
Release Title: Precept of Delator
Year: 2016
Label: Via Nocturne
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
1. Gergal Profaner
2. Palpation of Sacramentarian
3. Fluent Bilocation
4. Distil Shambles
5. Pellucid
6. Diptych of Perked Oblation
7. Garn for Debitors
8. Precept of Delator
9. Discorporation with Feral

Staying true to their old-school roots, Italian brutal death metallers Lectern have kept their steadfast tradition to mixing a brutal variation of this Floridian variety of death metal with a much harsher, more Satanic bent to their music that makes it more devastating. With guitarist Fabio Mariantoni leaving before recording and being replaced by Gabriele Cruz, the groups’ sophomore full-length was released September 23, 2016 on Via Nocturne.

As is to be expected here, this is a wholly ferocious and blistering effort with plenty of familiar elements to their past present throughout here. The main feature to be found here is the rather sharp, brutal riff-work, managing to work through a strong series of rhythm patterns that showcase a tight foundation with short rhythms and deep, churning grooves. That the vast majority of tracks in this section are built around a thrashing mindset means that they’re fast, vicious and really exploit the fine precision displayed throughout here as the up-tempo tracks and short rhythms give this a distinctly Floridian feel utilizing those similar tactics in their work. This one though adds on a far more blistering and twisting series of riffing over that which adds a frank brutality to the rhythms in this, and given that the riffing still adds a rather old-school vibe to the material is a fine touch. There’s only a minor quibble to be found here in that the album tends to run through a rather familiar and overly-repeated series of rhythms that make up quite a familiar series of riffs throughout here whenever the album drops into the same territory in its pacing. All the riffs are built upon the same general feel and tempo in the usual variants, and while that does lower this one somewhat the fact that rest of the music does stand up with quite a vicious attack that the flaws are lessened.

While it does become some familiar along its tempos, the fact that there’s still quite a lot to like in its overall presentation with a vicious mixture of thrashing old-school Floridian rhythms and brutal attack that it works quite well for those that enjoy either style at play or fans of their past work.

Score: 92/100

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Red Bible Black - Allah is Satan's Toy EP

Artist: Red Bible Black
Release Title: Allah is Satan's Toy EP
Year: 2017
Label: Merdümgiriz
Genre: Death Metal
1. Allah Is Satan's Toy
2. Pedophilic Baptism
3. Antibirth 11: Rape Your Mom
4. Dark Skinned Children Are for Burning
5. Promote, Support and Glorify Hatred
6. In This Beautiful Existence

Continuing to crush the listeners’ souls, Italian death metallers Red Bible Black have turned to the darkest corners of the world to further explore their extreme sound by drafting in Emir Toğrul to help craft the bands’ sonic assault to it’s fullest. Offering up their first new EP release following a series of demos and splits, the new effort was released June 1, 2017 on Merdümgiriz.

From the outset, there’s very little throughout this one that appeals to the rational side of the crowd with the vast majority of the album featuring the same overall approach. The album is essentially a blur of raw, distorted riffing piling out plenty of deep, churning rhythms that makes for a wholly immersive experience. With the album essentially focusing on these issues almost exclusively and basically only changing up the tempo to go for mid-tempo verses or plodding lethargic sprawls for the different forms of variety here which indeed leaves this one with a furious intensity and anger but also quite an obvious flaw throughout it. The fact that everything really sounds the same, not only due to the use of repeated rhythms and patterns but also because of the overall rawness of the project which ends up leaving this one with a muddied sound that can make it indistinguishable what song you’re on during the release. That is somewhat negated by the intensity and energy of the performances but does end up lowering this one slightly.

While still containing plenty of solid, enjoyable elements, the fact that so much of this one is drowned out in the blur of repeated rhythms and a low-fi sounding production does hamper this one enough that it’s really only appealing for fans of the creative personnel involved or aficionados of raw death metal.

Score: 75/100

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Dominate - Cálicem Serpente

Artist: Dominate (Col)
Release Title: Cálicem Serpente
Year: 2016
Label: Black Serpent Records
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
1. Brave Warrior
2. Deserter
3. Cálicem Serpente
4. Evil
5. Imperial Army
6. Death Awaits
7. Unmerciful Holocaust
8. Cold Bloody Murder (Rare Version)

Formed back in 2008, the Colombian black/thrashers under the name Dominate took their time honing their cold, icy sound combining the concepts of paganism, occultism, world wars, philosophy, the return of man to his union with the universe and nature. Finally able to offer their first professional recording, the groups’ full-length debut was released in 2016 by Black Serpent Records.

From the onset, the group clearly favors the typically extreme end of the South American scene by offering everything that can be expected in such efforts. There’s plenty of traditional blackened thrash riff-work throughout here, taking up the raw end of the spectrum by going through the simplistic, straightforward paces with a reckless intensity that’s quite ferocious. Due to the rather simplistic manner the vast majority of the songs are an endless variation of fast, frantic and sloppy riff-work that blazes along at pretty consistent tempos as the only real variations found here is when it shifts into a solid mid-tempo chug following the rousing thrash-style efforts. This ends up exposing the rather sloppy and utterly simplistic matter of how the album is pretty much a showcase of one-gear songs that aren’t really technical standouts. The songs hit hard and viciously, but after awhile there’s not a whole lot to offer from this one with the sloppy and reckless play throughout here. As well, this is also hampered by being so obviously low-budget that the album does suffer from a weak production, filled with muddy guitars, weak drums and an utter lack of crisp sound ends up making this one much weaker than it should be by standing out quite obviously here. These here are what hold this one back.

While not a truly awful debut release, there’s quite a lot to like here with the infectious energy and rabid attack that’s much more prominent here that it does overcome enough of the flaws here to appeal to the fans of the South American extreme scene only while those looking for more quality in their efforts should heed caution.

Score: 67/100

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Rites to Sedition - Ancestral Blood

Artist: Rites to Sedition
Release Title: Ancestral Blood
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
1. Waveform 66
2. The Moon Titan Phylon
3. Echelons of Imposition
4. Ancestral Blood
5. Sorcerers of Atlantis
6. Wartide
7. The Soul-Mind Catechism
8. The Golden Aeon of Saturnia

Formed just in 2014, North Carolina-based melodic black metallers Rites to Sedition have taken their influence from the old-school melodic black metal scene to craft an ambitious effort upon the origins of man and his epic quest to overcome occult mysteries. Dropping to a four-piece before recording as Gabriel Lucia took over vocal duties from original vocalist Brian Kingsland, their self-released debut album was released March 29, 2017.

From the beginning, this one comes complete with a stellar series of influences and musicianship that positions them immediately into the genre’s upper echelons. This is mainly built around the utterly phenomenal riff-work present, featuring plenty of thrilling tremolo patterns full of fiery rhythms and a multitude of tempo changes that allows this one to generate a slew of exciting rhythms. By adding in a technicality to these riffs alongside the ability to utilize the grandiose soundscapes throughout here, this manages to acquire a feeling of explosive icy black metal riffing that develops a variety of tempos and patterns throughout here as the vast array of exceptionally glorious rhythms throughout here which help to make the melodic leads all the more impressive. Running over furious tempos as well as plodding mid-paced efforts makes a huge impact on their rhythms by enabling this one to readily shift focus into the varying tempos and not lose any sense of power or grandeur in the attack, making this a spectacular showing that’s able to generate these varying moods and atmospheres here. If you’re into picking for flaws of the album, this one does tend to feel it’s length with the fact that the tracks here really get up there in length and that does make this feel somewhat of a drag as it goes on. However, it’s still not all that detrimental an effort.

With just the most minor of barely-detrimental issues cropping up throughout this one, there’s plenty to absolutely enjoy about this one as there are so many enjoyable and surprising elements to be found here that this makes for an easy recommend for fans looking for melodic or symphonic-heavy black metal.

Score: 95/100

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sentient Ignition - Enthroned in Gray

Artist: Sentient Ignition
Release Title: Enthroned in Gray
Year: 2017
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Technical Death Metal
1. Ascension
2. Enthroned in Gray
3. Black Lattice
4. A Thousand Ages
5. Grasp of the Infinite
6. Wardens of Intellect
7. Binding Time

Formed just in the last few years, Bay Area technical/progressive death metallers Sentient Ignition have brought a vast array of influences into a complex, challenging sound which is quite a devastating blow for a band bringing about their first offering. With the band rushing forth to offer their first professional release, the self-released debut full-length was originally released May 1, 2017.

From the beginning notes of this one, there’s a strong display of material here that gives this offering the kind of full-on charge through a progressive landscape. The fact that the vast majority of this one is based on twisting, swirling patterns utilizing challenging riff-patterns that dominate this one quite readily, making for a rather fun time here. These sweeping rhythms are based on the technicality of the riffing which is fantastic in building up dramatic moments through the utterly complex notes hit as well as the bands’ far-more-detailed ability to switch from the varying tempos here with the tight chugging, ravenous gallops and blistering thrash paces all coming to play here while expertly navigating throughout the frantic riffing alongside these tempo changes. That does manage to become quite the album highlight here, especially since there are a few minor flaws here. The biggest issue is the fact that there’s just not a whole lot of tracks to be had here with the album running through just a few tracks after the intro so it does feel rather short in spots as it really could use a few extra tracks to bump this up even though there’s still plenty to enjoy here with the epicness of the tracks as they are. As well, the fact that the guitar-tone on the album does dominate the overall production does make this a lot thinner and not as heavy as it could’ve been as this one doesn’t really pack the kind of punch others in the style accomplish. Still, for a debut offering, this one isn’t too bad and these are definitely fixable issues.

Though this one does tend to come up with a few minor issues, the fact that these are for the most part fixable as the band continues on their career, especially being a debut offering anyway which makes this a potentially intriguing band to follow for anyone into tech/death or progressive music.

Score: 83/100

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Ghusa - Öswedeme

Artist: Ghusa
Release Title: Öswedeme
Year: 2017
Label: White Square Music
Genre: Swedish Death Metal
1. 28 Days Later
2. H
3. Project 9
4. Death or Glory
5. Epitaph
6. Sickening
7. In Gods We Fear
8. Carve Up
9. Immortal
10. Flying in a Dark Dream

Continuing to uphold their country’s output, French death metallers Ghusa have utilized the famous style Swedish attack that was at the forefront of their original evolution years ago and brings them back from the grave once again to deliver the onslaught. After over a decade of silence that only included a compilation release in the interim, the bands’ sophomore album was originally released May 5, 2017 on White Square Records.

One this one gets going, the full-force of their Swedish influenced take on this style comes across in rapid succession as there’s little denying those elements. There’s plenty of focus on the rapid, tight rhythms featuring plenty of swirling buzzsaw grooves throughout here that feature plenty of utterly ferocious rhythms, thrashing patterns and that lively bouncy set of riffing that gives the material a great atmosphere in the faster sections. Even the slower sections contain a steady mid-tempo groove with plenty of tight, thunderous rhythms and a rather stylish series of riff-work which gives this a rather enjoyable air as well as plenty of diversity compared to the faster sections alongside these efforts. While none of this is particularly groundbreaking or original in the slightest as it’s basically just yet another band playing vicious and intense Swedish-styled death metal, it’s pretty much the main strike against the album where it doesn’t really offer up many flaws beyond its rather familiar and overly-accomplished style.

Being yet another in a long line of rather familiar and really proficient stabs at this style of death metal, that’s really all that can really be levied against this one in terms of finding flaws which really makes this a strong if unessential choice for connoisseurs of the genre for the most part.

Score: 83/100

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Sinister (Neth) - Syncretism

Artist: Sinister (Neth)
Release Title: Syncretism
Year: 2017
Label: Massacre Records
Genre: Old-School Death Metal
1. Neurophobic
2. Convulsions of Christ
3. Blood-Soaked Domain
4. Dominance by Acquisition
5. Syncretism
6. Black Slithering Mass
7. Rite of the Blood Eagle
8. The Canonical Rights
9. Confession Before Slaughter

One of the most respected and uncompromising bands in the scene, Dutch death metal legends Sinister have weathered the storm of continuous line-up changes and the times to usher a monster of untethered ferocity and savageness that follows the path of their previous work. Joined by new guitarist Ricardo Falcon and bassist Ghislain van der Stel prior to the release, the groups’ thirteenth studio album was February 24, 2017 on Massacre Records.

As part of their continued history, the band is firing on all cylinders and making for some of the most sonically devastating work of their career. The main focus here is on ravenous, churning riff-work with plenty of tight, chaotic leads that frantically buzz along to the ferocious tempos featured here, and this makes for a stylistically enjoyable offering. These typically envelop the sort of dark atmospheres associated with the early days of the scene when they first appeared, and with the bands’ choppy rhythm section delivering a loud, churning backbone to this material the band offers quite a thunderous full-throttle charge offset by celestial keyboards for a majestic melodic bent. That style of melodic accent is enhanced slightly on the slower-tempo styles where things slow down into a slight chug that adds a great base for some of the keyboards that are placed throughout here to take on a far grander sense of scale and tone than otherwise would be the case here for most older-sounding death metal bands, and that works to its advantage here. This is overall fast, frantic and utterly ferocious in its delivery focusing on the savage riff-work and leaves the melodic accents to select spaces rather than overwhelming the album which can happen here. Some of the longer tracks could’ve been shortened by a minute or two and still leave this with a brutal beatdown, but it’s the one minor flaw in this effort.

Showing every bit of the measured attack and viciousness that’s defined their career thus far, this is a pretty savage offering that maintains their revered name in the scene overall and sees this as a wholly worthwhile offering for any fan into extreme metal, their past works or old-school death metal in general.

Score: 95/100

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Hartlott - Extinction

Artist: Harlott
Release Title: Extinction
Year: 2017
Label: Metal Blade Records
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. Extinction
2. First World Solutions
3. The Penitent
4. Whore
5. No Past
6. Conflict Revelation
7. Better Off Dead
8. Violent Conspirator
9. And Darkness Brings The Light
10. Final Weapon
11. Parasite
12. Epitaph

Drawing from their storied history, Australian thrashers Harlott have emphasized the 80's Bay Area thrash scene and blending it with the Teutonic melody and grit, they focus on high energy, up-tempo music with lyrical influence from war, religion, chaos and the human condition. Bringing new guitarist Jake Weber onboard, the groups’ third full-length effort was released April 7, 2017 on Metal Blade Records.

Offering their strong, raging sound to it’s fullest, there’s not a whole lot to dislike here as the band brings their full-throttle attack to its fiery best. Based mainly on a churning, driving series of riffing that brings out plenty of utterly ferocious rhythms here, this ends up diving and bombing into galloping territory which bringing out the fullest intensity in these rhythms. Playing most of these tracks are dynamic speed-drenched numbers complete with crunchy patterns, a thunderous rhythm section and a truly intense drive to crush forward with the oppressive riff-work featured here as the need for the fastest, most ferocious riffing possible carries this one for the most part here. When this one drops off that intensity for melody there’s still plenty of ferocious rhythms around this blistering attack that it really manages to hold itself quite nicely here as the deeper churning patterns allows this to feature plenty of blistering sections while managing to sound close enough to their general sound without being recognizably off from the general attack. There is a case to be said here about the album being somewhat overlong with a few too many tracks here which make it feel somewhat like a slough in the second half to plow through even more of the same general attacks over and over again. It works nicely but trim this by a song or two and it would improve significantly.

An utterly impressive and near-flawless release, this is a truly ferocious and fiery retro thrash offering that covers the gamut of the old-school thrash scene in fine form which makes this one of the standout groups in the scene and an easy choice for fans of their past works or the style in general.

Score: 98/100

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