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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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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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Created to Kill - Death's Construction

Artist: Created to Kill
Release Title: Death's Construction
Year: 2013
Label: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
1. Fascination with Your Death
2. Object of Perfect Torture
3. Into the Frozen Tomb
4. Murdered and Mutilated
5. Corpse Collector
6. Machete
7. Suffocated in a Bodybag
8. Self Inflicted Flame Engulfment
9. The Reaper Always Wins
10. Death on the River

Continuing to deliver the brutality, Kentucky-based brutal death metallers Created to Kill have been built around their dedication to old school brutal Death Metal that is uncompromising and intense. With a five-year gap in between releases that sees long-time bassist Abe Simmerman put down the instrument in favor of bringing Phil Good onboard to join brother Paul, the group releases its second full-length album October 30, 2013 on new label Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.

From the outset, this here is pretty much a consistent and constant blast of frenzied, brutal death metal delivered with plenty of old-school verve. This is featured with the utterly ravenous and deep, tight riff-work full of frenzied arrangements and utterly frantic arrangements that give this one plenty of dynamic speed-drenched arrangements that makes for some truly impressive times. The loose, rattling rhythms mixed alongside these elements create a fine old-school approach in the riffing by offering up a fine series of thrashing patterns with plenty of furious and utterly savage arrangements while still giving plenty of fine tightly-wound riffing which is part of the wholesale approach to the genre which makes for quite the appealing time playing into the rules of that genre. That indeed is one of the main flaws here in that it’s quite formulaic and goes for the prototypical frenzied brutal death approach even with the inclusion of the more stable riff-work here and it does become somewhat of a massive blur as the album goes along due to the bands’ stature giving them so little room for refining the riffing and plays itself into that familiar playbook. There’s a dynamic and enjoyable crunch to the riffing that elicits quite the fun enthusiasm and competence at the style to overcome this slight flaw as it’s not the biggest detriment, but it does come up throughout this one and does hold it back somewhat.

Despite coming across as quite a familiar blur of frenzied riffing and pummeling rhythms that dozens of other bands in the genre offer, there’s still plenty to really like with this one’s generally furious approach and competence at their performances that it should be a worthwhile choice for aficionados of brutal death for the most part.

Score: 81/100

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Demonic Slaughter - Haunted

Artist: Demonic Slaughter
Release Title: Haunted
Year: 2014
Label: Pagan Records
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. Pit of Coffins
2. Mystic Rites
3. Psalm of Mist
4. Haunted
5. Madness and Astral Emanations
6. Monks of Cold Mountains
7. Żałobna procesja (Mournful Procession)
8. Wyklęty (The Wretched)
9. Death’s Creek

Furthering their connection to the old-school, Polish black metallers Demonic Slaughter have settled into a solid reputation for not only their boundless proficiency but also their dedication to writing and recording material in the traditional old-school manners. With drummer Nuklear Kriss departing in favor of new drummer Opium, the group’s fifth full-length was originally released December 10, 2014 on Pagan Records.

As has been the bands’ penchant from the beginning, this here offers up a non-stop assault of traditional Norwegian-styled black metal without much deviation. This one tends to revolve around simplistic tremolo riffing and straightforward rhythms that charge forward without altering themselves or changing up the stylistic charge here with these being placed alongside harmonic melodies and choppy drumming. This is a mostly continuous assault here that’s unwavering in it’s charge with these elements being brought to bear on the tracks without exception, and these find melodies featured throughout here are really where the majority of the album is taken up by the solid infusion of those melodies running nicely alongside the plodding tempos. When it gets to the more charging sections, this change in tempo and aggression leads to some more engaging efforts alongside the pronounced melodic efforts featured here, though these are still dominated by the melodic mindset for the most part. That is the album’s one weakness here with the rather sluggish, driving rhythms not really generating much energy or fiery rhythms which tends to make for a somewhat bland overall impression here that tends to feature the band going through the same overdrawn, bland rhythms for the most part. It’s not entirely detrimental as the melodies are engaging enough, but this one really could’ve used some extra fire.

Though it’s somewhat hampered by the fact that there are some rather bland and somewhat lifeless melodies brought to bear on the album as a whole, this one still emerges with enough positives from the melodic atmosphere and old-school rhythms to give this one some appeal to the most devout old-school black metal aficionado only.

Score: 78/100

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Evil Never Dies - Ekpyrosis

Artist: Evil Never Dies
Release Title: Ekpyrosis
Year: 2017
Label: Via Nocturne
Genre: Old-School Thrash Metal
1. Holy Mountain
2. No Cure for War
3. Epitaphs
4. It's Alive
5. (This is) Country for Old Men
6. Land With No Future
7. Imagination
8. Ekpyrosis

One of the earliest thrash bands in the country, Italian thrashers Evil Never Dies initially emerged during the height of the genre back in the early 90s, but beyond a few demo tracks never did much until their first professional output coming from EP releases in the late 2000s. Now finally able to get their first true release ready, the groups’ debut effort was released February 28, 2017 on Via Nocturna.

As befitting their old-school style, the basic approach to be found here is straightforward and decidedly old-school flavored thrashing. This goes for fairly lively crunchy patterns in the riff-work and really keeps the pacing incredibly simplistic here, alternating between straight gallops and driving mid-tempo chugs that contain quite a solid diversity to the tracks. Given that these are generally accompanied by a thunderous rhythm section and plenty of intensity, there’s a wholly enjoyable attack to be featured here that gives this one a firm touch to the old-school days. Given that this one features such a strong and generally one-note style performance, it does tend to contain a few minute missteps. The biggest issue here is that the album is basically intense but derivative, containing plenty of tight and vicious riffing but doesn’t really go further with developing them, going instead for rather plain and predictable setups that are more vicious through the genre rather than anything else. It gives the album a rather depleted feel and doesn’t really offer up that much in terms of enhancing the overall feel of the album beyond offering up more of the same rhythms and patterns, which does hold this one down somewhat. As well, that remix at the end of the album is so unnecessary that it really just drags it the album down quite a bit.

With some rather damaging flaws here and some generally enjoyable if not-that-impressive positives, overall this one just seems to be quite a bland and overall unnecessary offering that just doesn’t bring much to the table here and leaves this one only for the most devout old-school thrash fanatic.

Score: 72/100

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Epping Forest - Lebabvoid

Artist: Epping Forest
Release Title: Lebabvoid
Year: 2017
Label: Unexploded Records
Genre: Death/Black Metal
1. Inception: Everblasting Doom
2. Though-o-Matic: The Pyramid and the Exodus
3. Affair: The Curse and the Heal
4. Kria: Resistance Is Useless
5. Lebab Void: The Universe in a Machine
6. Foretoken: A Mountain-Gorges Lullaby
7. Summoning: Three Hundred Out of the Sky
8. Demise: Twelve Times Twelve Sars
9. Hereafter: We Are Alone in the End
10. Cruel with Us

Certainly taking their time on releases, Portuguese blackened death metallers Epping Forest have always been more interesting in unleashing quality darkened material as evidenced by their two releases in nearly twenty years of existence honing their core sound. Following up after nearly a decade of silence with new bassist Trevash, the groups’ sophomore release was originally released March 10, 2017 on Unexploded Records.

Bringing their full intensity to bear, the band offers up plenty of furious and utterly dynamic work throughout here which allows for a lot of positives. This one tends to go for rapid-fire tremolo-picked riffing that is added nicely to the churning rhythms beneath so that the swirling riff-work takes on a frantic tone, offering up plenty of up-tempo sections that brings out the crimson-soaked accents in those tremolo patterns. By offering the majority of the tracks in this up-tempo manner, the riffing becomes even more dynamic with the blackened crunch taking centerstage for the majority of the album and giving this a blistering overall sound. Elsewhere throughout here, there’s a fine display of melodic brought to bear with the usage of exotic middle eastern melodies and rhythms to add a different dynamic to the album. These are mainly in the more down-tempo, slower sections which are balanced out incredibly well with the crushing rhythms alongside as the frantic blackened intensity dropping into sprawling melodic accents creates a perfect balance here. For the most part, it’s really only the sections here where they adopt a more ethereal, somewhat clean crooning that the album dips somewhat into softer realms that are quite an odd contrast against the raging blackened cacophony on display during these sections. Beyond this issue, it’s a wholly explosive offering.

Without too many issues to detract this one from it’s more enjoyable elements, this explosive comeback offering brings about just about all the classic elements expected from the band which makes this a wholly worthwhile offering for fans of their previous work or fiery death/black metal in general.

Score: 97/100

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