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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Echelon - The Brimstone Aggrandizement

Artist: Echelon
Release Title: The Brimstone Aggrandizement
Year: 2016
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Genre: Old-School Death Metal
1. Plague of the Altruistic
2. The Forbidden Industry
3. Lex Talionis
4. Of Warlocks and Wolves
5. The Brimstone Aggrandizement
6. Vital Existence
7. The Feared Religion
8. Monsters in the Gene Pool/Sonic Vortex

Another of his prodigious releases, Swedish/UK  old-school death metal supergroup Echelon continue to further the rabid traditionally-minded old-school sound that Rogga Johansson has made his career on, this project a union between Rogga and legendary vocalist Dave Ingram. Bringing onboard Paganizer collaborator Kjetil Lynghaug on Guitar, Ribspreader bassist Johan Berglund and maniacal drummer Travis Ruvo, the groups’ second full-length album was originally released December 22, 2016 on Transcending Obscurity Records.

Much as could be expected here, the band is quite obviously yet another group that brings about its old-school death metal style to the forefront almost immediately. Filled to the brim with deep, churning riff-work that offers plenty of straightforward mid-tempo paced rhythms that are equally as frantic and intense as well as sharp and bludgeoning in their sprawling tones, it makes for a wholly appealing time. The fact that it’s all recorded at that warm, vibrant tone makes the riffing even more impressive here generating the sort of tactical approaches usually featured in the early days of the scene by switching from the tight, crunchy grooves favored in that scene while also employing slow, sprawling sections that feature wave after wave of heavy riff-work, pounding drumming and dynamic vocals into these dynamic rhythms that propel this one along. As it rages through these varying tempos and rhythm patterns, it really generates that old-school feel here without being cheesy or cloying as there are quite a few sections that trade in the churning riffs for spiraling tremolo-picked riffing or allowing for melodic overtones to the frantic, fiery solo sections and it all captures the old-school vibe exceptionally well. It does come off a little short here at times with the brief running time coming against it with the few tracks here, but it’s nowhere near enough to really hold back this one’s retro-themed fun.

Though it doesn’t really come with the full-on throwback to the old-school days with its brief running time holding it back somewhat, the fact that the vast majority of the album is still raging old-school themed death metal of fine caliber makes this a worthwhile choice for fans of the participants’ other bands or old-school death in general.

Score: 95/100

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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Axxen Conners - Nowhere to Escape Sins EP

Artist: Axxen Conners
Release Title: Nowhere to Escape Sins EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Melodic/Progressive Death Metal
1. Behind the Walls of the Primal Existence
2. Creator Became Absolute
3. Cursed Messiah for a Doomed Society

Formed just in 2015, Turkish death metal duo Axxen Conners have come together quite quickly with the intent of meshing their stylistic progressive and melodic influences into a charging death metal unit exploring these elements. Quickly wasting no time to getting their first work out, the groups’ debut EP was originally self-released August 14, 2016.

For the most part, the album demonstrates a great deal of influence from both the melodic and progressive realms that carry a large weight throughout here. The riff-work here is a great variation of the two, with the main patterns utilizing challenging, twisted groove-styled rhythms full of melodic accents, which is basically the entire gamut of material here as the music is simply differentiated through either a mid-tempo chug or a swirling up-tempo charge that utilizes more melodic tendencies. Given that there’s not a whole lot else going on throughout here as the material is straightforward and doesn’t really vary or differentiate itself from these elements here with only three tracks to gather their style, so however well-performed this material actually is, the fact that there’s so few material here is what really holds this back.

Without a whole lot of material to really get into here that doesn’t really offer much variation anyway, there’s quite a few flaws here that do bring down the film’s positives enough that this one really seems to appeal only to those that appreciate the simplistic nature of the material more than the actual quality of what’s on display.

Score: 65/100

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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Kratornas - Devoured by Darkness

Artist: Kratornas
Release Title: Devoured by Darkness
Year: 2016
Label: Grathila Records
Genre: Black Metal/Grindcore
1. Spit on God
2. Dead Burning Christ
3. Archangels of Destruction
4. Deluge - After Massacre
5. Blood of the Devil
6. Evil Is Reborn
7. Devoured by Damnation
8. Cadavers of Gods
9. Huios Diabolus
10. World Within Demons

Keeping their third-world brutality intact, Phillippine-by-way-of-Canada black metal/grindcore act Kratornas prepares itself as the first properly recorded output of main-man Zachariah’s quest for the furious metal of his youth. With this being bands’ first output to be professionally recorded in a proper setting of any kind, their third full-length release arrives after a six-year gap December 8, 2016 on Grathila Records.

Fueled by their far-ranging influences, this here is a wholly chaotic and wide-ranging album with a slew of different elements present within here. The vast majority of the album is wrapped up in tight, utterly ferocious rhythms that bound along with plenty of frantic razor-wire riff-work raging along throughout here, which manages to capture the seemingly disjointed elements present into a cohesive whole. This one ranges from the blistering blasts of grindcore to the deep churning patterns of more traditional death metal and even incorporates the swirling tremolo patterns of black metal at various interjections along the track, capturing a wholly chaotic and disjointed feel here with this one never once carrying through a repeated pattern flying and charging along through the different elements present as the album’s wildly varying tone and approach works wonders for keeping this one surprising and off-guard. The gritty, raw tone and feel here is perfectly matched with the furious, attacking tone throughout the album and manages to give this the kind of dirty, unpolished sheen that makes for quite a ferocious and dynamic offering, yet also points out one minor factor glaring out from the release. The album’s disparate elements are conjoined together into a whole that sounds like loud, blaring noise at times as the riffing disappears into the mass of raw feedback and rough drumming which is all a part of the planned attack yet doesn’t allow the album any kind of distinguishing marks. It’s all quite lost in the sea of relentless rhythms and blaring noise, so it’s quite a distracting effort at times.

With only one minor factor present slowing this one down in simply being a little too chaotic and directionless with its approach, the remaining elements present here to make this one such an impressive and enjoyable release that it’s quite an appealing effort for those that appreciate the furious noise within.

Score: 94/100

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Djevel - Norske Ritualer

Artist: Djevel
Release Title: Norske Ritualer
Year: 2016
Label: Aftermath Music
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. Vi slakter den foerste og den andre, den tredje lar vi gaa mot nord
2. Jeg maner eder alle
3. Doedskraft og tre nagler
4. Med christi legeme og blod under hoeiere fod
5. Til mitt kjaere Norge
6. Med tornespiger var han haengt
7. Maatte vetter rase som aldrig foer
8. Afgrunds Engle

Blazing through the underground, Norwegian black metallers Djevel continues to lead their way through the old-school format as the traditionally-minded group heads out into the same fields and patterns normally reserved to the old-school ways which befit the band members collective experience. Wasting no time in releasing a new album in consecutive calendar years, the groups’ fourth album is released November 11, 2016 on Aftermath Music.

There’s little question here about the bands’ influences on this one, it’s all pretty much spelled out here from the very start with some rather immediate parts coming to the forefront of this one. This is a pretty substantial and impactful old-school release which carries those elements quite handily, from the swirling tremolo-picked patterns that are continuously flowing from ravenous bursts of up-tempo blasts to weighty mid-tempo sprawls throughout here, generating the kind of furious old-school assault that is completely capable of accomplishing this stylistic framework through the album’s epic-length tracks that allow for these types of patterns quite easily. Likewise, this also manages to incorporate the stylistic breaks throughout here where it’s able to weave haunting acoustic segments or ethereal chanting choirs into their pummeling attack which generates the kind of frantic departures within their rhythms that add that extra touch to the bands’ old-school showcase, and with the whole affair wrapped in that stylistic cold, freezing production that compounds the fiery tremolo riffing and thumping rhythm section it all completes the old-school experience incredibly well. That’s also the album’s main curse against it, in that the old-school approach is so heavy and prominent that it doesn’t really differentiate itself from the numerous other second-wave imitators in the genre which are quite prominent in the scene. They’re remarkably proficient and competent in this style, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s quite a familiar approach is the main flaw present.

While the ravenous old-school tendency carried throughout here is the main problem associated with it, there’s little else that really strikes as being detrimental enough to allow this one to be of quite significant interest to any fan or interested party in second-wave Norwegian black metal.

Score: 95/100

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Profanatism - Hereticon

Artist: Profanatism
Release Title: Hereticon
Year: 2016
Label: Under the Sign of Garazel Productions
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. Intro
2. Darkness in the Eyes of God
3. Icon Hereticon
4. I Cold
5. Dance with a Serpent
6. Nowy świt
7. Ostatni zmierzch
8. Legion in My Soul

Founded in 2012, Polish black metal duo Profanatism quickly honed their skills in the underground scene with several different demos that allowed the band to perfect their craft and managed to bring out a split release as well to help the pair further refine their skills. Finally ready to unleash their first proper release, the groups’ debut full-length was originally released June 6, 2016 on Under the Sign of Garazel Productions.

Like so many of their Polish brethren, the bands’ quite clearly adept and proficient in the raw, driving second-wave style of intense black metal favored in the country. Still largely beset with swirling tremolo riff-work and a darkened series of rhythms throughout here, the fact that there’s a much larger emphasis on the raw, churning patterns that display a quite larger, impactful intensity to the tracks is much more evident here as this features the typical rhythm changes and discordant riffing found in that style. That series of discordant patterns allows this one to change from the blisteringly fast, raw tremolo-laced attacks to swirling, mid-tempo sprawling that offers tinges of industrial riffing and much more straightforward, loose patterns that contain much more simplistic chugging all brought into a cohesive whole usually within the same tracks, and that gives this a seemingly disparate sense of chaos with all the different elements working together to give this one the furious intensity by maneuvering through these differently-paced elements within the music. As good as that is, the fact that it really manages to highlight the small nagging factor within this one as being way too scattershot and disjointed that there’s quite a loose feeling running through the music as a whole, rarely feeling like a true collective of tracks with that distinctive series of disparate elements. These don’t offer the kind of pleasing mesh of styles as the swirling tremolo riff-work generating that typical sea of chaos while the sprawling industrial-tinged passages don’t really create any cohesive bonding together the way it’s intended, which is a fine area to work on as the band gains experience and carries on.

Though there’s a few flaws to be found here with the bands’ inexperience being brought to the forefront with some rather disparate elements being featured here, the fact that the bands’ far more intriguing traditional-style second-wave black metal approach that helps make this a worthwhile time for those that can handle the flaws and enjoy the second-wave style.

Score: 80/100

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Wormlight - Bloodfields EP

Artist: Wormlight
Release Title: Bloodfields EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent (Black Lion Productions reissue)
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
1. Wormlight
2. Pitch Black Hatred
3. Towards Impious Domination
4. The Bloodfields

Reissue Tracklisting:
1. Wormlight
2. Pitch Black Hatred
3. Towards Impious Domination
4. The Bloodfields
5. Wormlight (Rerecorded Version)
6. The Bloodfields (Rerecorded Version)

Carrying on from Unhallowed, Swedish black metallers Wormlight have charged forth after the name-change into the current moniker as the band continues to explore the same general sound within the new format. With a lineup overhaul that sees founder Deafeathered leave only to be replaced by Tiamat Invictuz who then took up guitar duties from a departing Nordlyst, the group’s new EP was originally self-released April 10, 2015 with a reissue December 3, 2016 on Black Lion Productions that sees bonus tracks with Invictuz on vocals added on.

Despite the name change, what’s on display here is still classic-era melodic black metal featuring all the aggression and intensity normally found within the scene. Full of galloping tremolo riffing that adds that characteristic darkened hellfire sound to the whole overall atmosphere, furious pounding drum work that is simply unrelenting and carrying through a truly explosive series of paces throughout here, the basic unrelenting charge offered here is quite the impressive burst of traditional black metal yet still manages to contain plenty of melodic accents. Churning away with a steady gallop throughout the rhythms by switching up the overall sound away from the raging tempos into a more straightforward attack that’s much more in league with the classic melodic black metal as the bands’ ability to switch-up these styles gives this a strong dynamic and variety that’s quite impressive and enjoyable. On the whole, this doesn’t leave much to dislike here as the band is quite adept at this style for the most part without really employing all that many flaws present.

As a fully explosive and generally appealing mixture of furious black metal rhythms with choice melodic accents interwoven throughout here and not really generating a lot of dislikes, this is quite the appealing package for those looking for quality melodic black metal or those appreciate high-quality extreme metal.

Score: 90/100

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Friday, December 2, 2016

Ghost of Mary - Oblivaeon

Artist: Ghost of Mary
Release Title: Oblivaeon
Year: 2016
Label: Revalve Records
Genre: Melodic Gothic/Death Metal
1. The Moon and the Tree
2. Shades
3. Last Guardians
4. Nothing
5. The Ancient Abyss
6. Oblivaeon
7. Black Star
8. Something to Know
9. The End Is the Beginning
10. Nowhere Now Here

Formed in early 2014, Italian gothic/death metal newcomers Ghost of Mary have come together to add a great new voice into the genre with articulated and melodic progressive architectures and immersed in a dark atmosphere. Based on the original tale written by Daniele Rini as a sort of allegory about life and death, the group’s full-length debut was released December 2, 2016 on Revalve Records.

Coming off as a complete surprise, this here was quite the impressive and utterly surprising release that goes for the impressive and dramatic side of the spectrum. Ostensibly based on melodic death metal, the band wholly utilizes those rhythms and riffing structure with speed-driven, swirling patterns in their style to create a stylistically heavy, up-tempo album with plenty of galloping guitars and drumming together propelling this one along with the atmosphere found within a nominal melodic death metal band. Though this represents the main factor of the music, this is blended together incredibly well here by the inclusion of symphonic elements more in keeping with gothic metal in terms of using these elements to create a warm, romantic atmosphere within the music. This creates the appealing dichotomy of ripping, raging melody-tinged death metal with high-speed tempos alongside slower, lush atmospherics that goes together so well that there’s quite the intriguing and sound overall here. The main element against this one, though, is the fact that the album’s wildly-veering sonic style manages to make the vocal shifts appear wholly disproportionate for the type of music present which is somewhat of a stumbling block in the later half of the album. Given that deep, guttural style growl for a large portion of the melodic music just sounds awkward with the short, warm melodies and the cleans don’t fare much better either with their crooning becoming laughable in their attempts to interject melody into their rhythms especially on the attempts at balladry. Given that this is a debut offering, though, much of this is somewhat forgivable and doesn’t detract from this one all that much.

As it stands, there are a few problems here with the disparate vocal stylings throughout here, but the fact that being a debut there’s always a chance to fix this and it doesn’t distract much from the music at all which is far more enjoyable gives this one quite a lot of appeal to melodic death metal fans of those intrigued by darker gothic metal as well.

Score: 88/100

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Revel in Flesh - Emissary of All Plagues

Artist: Revel in Flesh
Release Title: Emissary of All Plagues
Year: 2016
Label: Cyclone Empire
Genre: Swedish Death Metal
1. Emissary of All Plagues
2. Casket Ride
3. Fortress of Gloom
4. Servants of the Deathkult
5. Torture Throne
6. The Dead Lives On
7. Lord of Flesh
8. Sepulchral Passage
9. Dead to This World
10. Doctor, Doctor (UFO cover)

Following their usual style, German death metallers Revel in Flesh have been at the forefront of the Swedish-style grinding death metal fervor that was apparent from the beginning. Taking two years once again to get this one released, the bands' fourth full-length effort was issued December 2, 2016 on Cyclone Empire.

As was apparent from the onset here, this is a tried-and-true homage to the blistering, pounding death metal featured in the Swedish style from the early 90s. This is predominantly a part of the swirling groove-style of riff-work heavily featured in that scene, using this buzzsaw style of attack to generate a feverish energy and infectious bursts of aggression in this old-school style of worship throughout here. This is not only prevalent in high quantities throughout here, but it works rather nicely to buffer out the prominent melodic aspect featured here with the band employing a highly-developed sense of melody-driven rhythms that were introduced sparingly in the previous release but come off with more focus and intent here. This highly-focused melodic bent being the prominent element to their attack makes this come off rather nicely yet also manages to cause the album a rather distressing flaw in being just way too simplified in the riff-work in order to accommodate the melodies. This is rather unchanged and simple-minded at times as though the performances are strong and engaging there's little else about this one to really get worked up over with the simplicity of the riff-work. Though this is a big factor, there's not much else here.

Despite coming across a little too simplistic at times, there's a rather enjoyable amount of work to this one employing strong melodies alongside the ravenous Swedeath riffing that it remains a highly recommended effort to fans of the style or old-school death in particular.

Score: 84/100

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Flidais - Kazador EP

Artist: Flidais
Release Title: Kazador EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
1. Traffic
2. Pinnacle
3. High Stakes
4. Hunter
5. Resolve
6. Missing

Continuing to hone their craft, Canadian progressive power metallers Flidais have comprised their central style of galloping power metal full of tight, bright melodies that are merged together with deft ease and execution that was a part of their original style. As original members Jordan Litt on guitars and Chris Darmanin on drums have left with only the latter being replaced by Ryley Swatman, the group’s new EP is original self-released December 2, 2016.

This here is quite the enjoyable release mainly due to the rather enjoyable nature of the band really offering quite an impressive attack here. Built upon the swirling, challenging progressive-tinged riffing that’s quite impressive how it manages to go for the variety of work overall here, is due to the bands’ insistence on featuring the riffing more as a straightforward gallop while still featuring plenty of challenging rhythms and patterns which give it a strong progressive bent. With this given a strong boost by the strong melodic outpouring throughout here due to the tight riffing and strong accents placed within the music, on the whole, this one carries itself pretty well here and doesn’t really strike as too detrimental in too many areas as the riffing is strong, the melodies are bright and the varied attack makes this one quite enjoyable. There’s one element that could use some minor touch-up in here which is the album’s tendency to stay within quite familiar stylings to each other so that a vast majority of the songs are blended together into the same general sound of challenging, churning riffing and bright melodies that sound good yet doesn’t strike as any kind of distinctive voice here due to the repeat style featured. It’s not a big detriment but it is there.

Though only hurt here somewhat by the relatively small aspect of their music with the commonly-used riff-work and rhythms making it blend into itself quite easily, it’s not nearly enough to let this one loose itself into that flaw and comes off rather nicely for fans of bright, melodic power metal or progressive-minded fans of the genre.

Score: 88/100

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Atropas - From Ashes EP

Artist: Atropas
Release Title: From Ashes EP
Year: 2016
Label: WormHoleDeath Records
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
1. Rapture
2. Burn It to the Ground
3. Orchids
4. Ashes
5. Redeem the Lost
6. My Oath

Attempting to expand their horizons, Swiss melodic death metallers Atropas have carried on from their past works which has taken their older influences into a stronger, more vicious attack that begins adopting more of a metalcore-influenced sound into their sound. Following up a little over a year from the last full-length release, this new EP was originally released December 2, 2016 on WormHoleDeath Records.

Charging along quite intently, the group offers quite an impressive overall attack here with their metalcore-inspired influences even more in the forefront of their sound. That becomes apparent immediately here with the influx of short, stuttering-style pattern sections alongside the sharp, chugging-based riffing utilized here which gives this a far stronger appeal for that particular style throughout here. Still, that doesn’t deter the fact that the jagged, angular patterns and pleasing melodic runs aren’t featured here as they’re still quite prominently displayed which get far more total running time throughout here which makes this one feel more intense and dynamic than most metalcore groups with their inclusion of these more traditionally-minded melodic death metal stylings that offer fluid rhythms that are charging in their intensity while still leaving plenty of room for their lengthier arrangements as the few epics come off rather nicely with the group able to shift from the tight chugging metalcore style into sprawling, furious melodic ragers together in a cohesive whole. Although this drops a little with the squealing vocals not really being all that intimidating and dropping some of the songs somewhat with their high-pitched screaming coming off grating more than anything, it’s not nearly enough to deter this from being quite the enjoyable mini-album.

As there’s not a whole lot really wrong here with this one and instead featuring plenty of enjoyable elements coming from a great understanding of their infusion of tight chugging metalcore into their sprawling melodic death metal that leaves this a solid pick for fans of either style or those curious to see where the band is heading.

Score: 88/100

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Malacoda - Ritualis Aeterna EP

Artist: Malacoda
Release Title: Ritualis Aeterna EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Power/Gothic Metal
1. Penny Dreadful
2. I Got A Letter
3. Pandemonium
4. The Wild Hunt
5. Linger Here
6. There Will Always Be One

Containing a lot of the same elements, Canadian gothic metallers Malacoda have further expanded their dark gothic vision by including even more literary and visual influences into their sound since their previous release. As the lineup is now rounded out with the addition of keyboard virtuoso Jonah Weingarten into their ranks, the groups’ new EP is self-released December 2, 2016.

This here comes off as a rather strong and impressive release that has plenty of strong work at play here with the rather disparate elements coming together into a strong whole. For the most part here the band is clearly adept at delving into the grandiose Gothic imagery present here which is quite strong and prominent featuring plenty of the swirling riff-work, the utterly dramatic blend of rhythms here that delve from progressive-styled groove to bombastic symphonics overlaid with plenty of melodic interludes and a variance in the tempos all come forward into making this one flirt incredibly heavily with the dark romantic vibe present in the genre. These here work incredibly well for the band, but the fact that there’s not a whole lot else really going on here does affect this one as the band seems to just simply pound through their signature sound but that’s about it. It’s adept at their stylistic variation within the style, but otherwise, it’s just a mostly bland offering that never really reaches any kind of impressive  riffing that really comes off as quite bland without having any more impressive rhythms involved. On the whole, this is a competent if uninspired effort.

Though this one has some decent work involved, there’s not a whole lot else with this one going on that makes this one feel quite bland overall in terms of performance that this one really only seems worthwhile for the most devout and hardcore gothic/power metal fans or followers of the band members’ previous bands.

Score: 60/100

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Ruptured Birth - Transmutant

Artist: Ruptured Birth
Release Title: Transmutant
Year: 2016
Label: CDN Records
Genre: Brutal/Slam Death Metal
1. Saprogenic
2. Strogg
3. Projectile Copremisis
4. Blood Siren
5. Nuclear Marauders
6. The Shape
7. Transmutant
8. Vomit Drop
9. Unnatural Selection

Formed in the summer of 2014, Canadian slammers Ruptured Birth have quite quickly taken a prominent role amongst the community by offering a highly-competent science fiction-based attack to their tight, technical slam-infused brutality. Quickly releasing their first EP and now joined by Aaron Cividino handling bass guitar duties, the quartet issues their debut full-length September 28 on CDN Records.

From the very start here, the band clearly and quite comfortably takes their technically-proficient brand of brutal death metal and slam through a very engaging whole. Offering forth a never-ending whirlwind here of tight, pummeling slams and breakdowns fueled through a ferocious blend of dexterous riffing, slow lurching crawls and a fine sense of blasting drumming to compliment the fine slams featured throughout the rhythms here. Still, there’s a more impressive focus here on introducing all these fine slams to a science fiction aesthetic that’s built more upon far more technical and twisting rhythms that drops the slamming pretence for quite more straightforward brutal death here, and these result in far more superior and enjoyable elements by wrapping around quite a bit more enjoyable elements within their basic framework-style slams and tight, chugging rhythms, and with the technical and the brutal landing together side-by-side this is quite an enjoyable release. There’s very little about this music that’s all too original or brings about any additional revelations within the music, which isn’t a terrible facet to this one but it gets extrapolated here with the endless overlong closing epic that doesn’t really do much for the album as a whole here with the nonsensical sci-fi leanings and pointless meandering that stretches the song out way past the fifteen-minute mark. It’s really the only thing otherwise that holds this one back with all the other enjoyable elements on display.

While it does get docked somewhat for some rather questionable overlong material in an otherwise enjoyable and vicious album, that doesn’t really deter this one all that much as the vast amount of enjoyable work on display here makes this quite an appealing and worthwhile effort for slam fans or brutal death metal in general.

Score: 85/100

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Eufobia - Eufobia

Artist: Eufobia
Release Title: Eufobia
Year: 2016
Label: Wizard
Genre: Death Metal
1. Graveyard
2. Hater
3. Liquid of Creation
4. Devotion
5. Fat Sack of Shit
6. Unspoken
7. Lust
8. Scarecrow
9. Cyber Pervert
10. Tears of Defloration

Finally coming back to the scene, Bulgarian death metallers Eufobia have managed to take their time away honing their skills on the live circuit to help prepare themselves for their newest full-length release. With a five-year gap between albums during this time, the group finally unleashes their self-titled third full-length album November 1, 2016 on long-time label Wizard.

Even without all the time off it’s still quite clear here that band is still firing along quite nicely here with their furious and charging blend of metal they’ve always been playing. The bands’ main focus is on churning, up-tempo hardcore-style riffing that adds a thoroughly ferocious bent to the music as they’ve gathered plenty of stuttering, confrontational rhythms placed alongside a much more fluid, energetic brand of traditional death metal. This results in explosive, straightforward bursts of short, sharp riffing that maintains an intense, aggressive atmosphere even with the inclusion of melodic elements in here while the choppy, discordant patterns throughout here continually bring about the album’s selected pieces of rhythms that bring about lively and truly explosive angular riff-work here to make it all quite fun. The album’s biggest detrimental factor here is one of coherence as the fact that there’s little about the discordant, chaotic material that makes a lick of thematic sense and comes across as wildly incoherent due to the rapid shifts in tone here. This comes from the punkish riffing interjected alongside it all, and it only adds to the scattershot flow of the album.

Though there are some pretty decent elements at work here, that doesn’t really change the fact that there’s so much of the album really filled with this wildly varied type of material which brings it down enough to leave this one mainly for fans of this kind of jarring, chaotic form of death metal or fans of the bands’ past works as well.

Score: 70/100

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Scalpture - Panzerdoktrin

Artist: Scalpture
Release Title: Panzerdoktrin
Year: 2016
Label: Final Gate Records
Genre: Swedish Death Metal
1. Forward March
2. ...Panzer Hooray!
3. Lead from Ahead
4. Dam Busters
5. Flattened Horizons (Pounding Howitzers)
6. No Rest, No Sleep, No Peace
7. Incursion
8. Not a Single Step Back
9. Embrace the Afterglow

Founded in 2009, German death metallers Scalpture have taken the years to hone and refine a vicious death metal charge hailing their old-school sound into vicious bursts of death metal over the years which has honed and refined their attack into a lethal war-themed force. Adding second guitarist Tobias to the group for this release, the groups’ full-length debut is released December 1, 2016 on Final Gate Records.

From the start, it’s quite apparent that the bands’ old-school influences are getting shown at the forefront of the groups’ overall sound here. The basic intention here is the classic churning Swedish-style sound complete with that familiar grinding buzzsaw-style blast to the riff-work which offers a fine series of stylistic changes as the tempos offer up the traditional blend of galloping up-tempo thrash-paced styles to more mid-tempo chugging throughout here. Those mid-tempo paces are where the band explores the vast majority of times here and comes complete with the usual sense of sprawling patterns and melodic trinkling sprinkled throughout to add to a fine old-school sense of straightforwardness to the rhythms that keeps things simple, vicious and intense. When the band drops that in favor of the ravenous, blistering up-tempo work it fares quite well with the swirling patterns and melodic accents generating the kind of atmosphere that keeps this one charging along into that old-school vein which really gives this one a lot to really like about it. However good it may be, though, doesn’t change the fact that the music here is pretty much reliant on that atmosphere to such a degree that there’s no real originality present in the attack at all. The riffs, pattern arrangements and even the melodic interjections are cribbed straight from the Stockholm playbook and replicated with earnest and competent performances that really makes this one feel like numerous other bands in the style. It’s not detrimental in the slightest due to the enjoyment found within this as the music is well-played enough to make a difference, and again as a debut feature that doesn’t become as big a factor as it really could’ve been.

Despite not offering up a truly original thought all that often throughout here, the sheer earnestness and competency of their chosen style to utilize the Swedish old-school sound makes them quite an intriguing rookie to watch in the scene and really gives this one a strong appeal to Swedish-style death metal fanatics or old-school death aficionados in general.

Score: 87/100

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Bloody Blasphemy - Total Death Celebration

Artist: Bloody Blasphemy
Release Title: Total Death Celebration
Year: 2016
Label: Via Nocturne
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. Introduction
2. Summon the Beast
3. Free from the Pain of Salvation
4. From the Blood of the Christians
5. Des Feindes Tod
6. Total Death Celebration
7. Dawn of the Equinox
8. To the Eternal Fields of Infernal Blasphemy
9. (Un)heiliger Krieg
10. Resurrection of Darkness
11. Outroduction

Formed way back in 1999, Swiss black metallers Bloody Blasphemy have taken their time to hone and perfect their blackened, raw sound as the decade-plus gap from their demo releases until now has given them the chance to finally offer it in the fullest old-school sense. Fully unleashing their massive first offering, their debut full-length was originally released April 26, 2016 on Via Nocturne.

For the most part here, this one seems to dwell in the same rather typical air of the second-wave worshipping acts that are pouring out at the moment. Filled with ravenous tremolo-picked riffing and plenty of tight, constrained rhythms that offer forth plenty of raw, dripping rhythms that are granted wide berths here due to their blistering tempos that are found here. That keeps these relatively speed-driven bursts of tremolo-packed cold, darkened black metal bursts and as the dominant feature here does pack enough of a punch to really generate that kind of furious rhythm sections to back the album’s more melodic quotients. Those are much more straightforward in their structure and offer much more simplistic riff-work and less frenetic patterns as the stylish melodies are thrown into the fiery, cold rhythms and they’re quite enjoyable as a result, but manage to highlight the first minor flaw to this one. The album is so simplistic in its delivery anyway that it manages to highlight these sections as quite problematic anyway that it really does seem to just offer up more of the same in terms of being a tremolo-blasting throwback with quite wonky rhythm changes. This has a habit of simply switching on a dime into rather dynamic variations within the tracks almost without any kind of warning or build-up, and the result doesn’t mesh with their intentions of blazing along these well-tread patterns. A much cleaner series of change-overs would’ve made for more dynamic material here rather than the straightforward, simplistic manner done here, which also applies to the massive eleven-plus minute epic that feels it’s weight quite often throughout it’s running time. Otherwise, this one wasn’t that bad.

With some stronger writing, which is a possible recurrence that can come with experience since this is still considered a debut release regardless of the bands’ longevity, this could become quite a fun genre offering that will still have quite a lot of appeal to fans of raw, cold-style old-school black metal or the second-wave worshippers that fall in line with the bands’ stance as well.

Score: 84/100

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Anata - The Infernal Depths of Hatred

Artist: Anata
Release Title: The Infernal Depths of Hatred
Year: 1998 (2016 reissue)
Label: Season of Mist (KaosKvlt 2016 reissue)
Genre: Technical Death Metal
1. Released When You Are Dead
2. Let the Heavens Hate
3. Under Azure Skies
4. Vast Lands/Infernal Gates
5. Slain upon His Altar
6. Those Who Lick the Wounds of Christ
7. Dethrone the Hypocrites
8. Aim Not at the Kingdom High
9. Day of Suffering [Morbid Angel cover]

Having formed in 1993, Swedish technical death metal powerhouse Anata have taken their name from an Egyptian goddess of war and secured people from animal attacks and was brought to Egypt from Syria by Hyksos in the beginning of 17. century B.C., which matches the intensity and power of the bands’ attack. Following up a pair of highly-acclaimed demos, the bands’ debut full-length was originally released October 4, 1998 on Season of Mist before a vinyl re-issue October 21, 2016 on KaosKvlt.

From the outset, this here is patently dynamic and charging death metal of the highest caliber as it focuses quite heavily on its genre leanings to generate plenty of enjoyable elements. This mostly focuses on bringing along the challenging traditional death metal patterns and furious rhythms that inject copious amounts of speed and energy into the works while offering spindly leads and driving chunks of meaty riffing to great effect. That these here generate the kind of complex, utterly schizoid brand of technical death is the greatest virtue for the record, offering that kind of material with remarkable skill yet still featuring a rather heavy charge that grounds the whole album in a great weight that’s more in keeping with the traditional varieties on display throughout here. This really makes for a dynamic and impressive effort alone of the fact that there’s the added bonus of enhanced melodic elements interspersed alongside many of these driving rhythms. Though it’s quite predominantly rooted in the frenzied side of the genre, this one can place lighter riffing into extended sections and even introduce twinkling rhythms all mashed together into a strong, stylish whirlwind that’s immensely pleasurable and creates a strong, cohesive attack throughout here. The melodies on display shore up the savage, driving rhythms even better while focusing on the technical skillset needed to wrap these disparate elements together so as not to let any part of the album overwhelm the other, which makes this one of the finest to accomplish this and works so well for the album as a whole.

On the whole this here is one of the genre’s most revered and enjoyable albums for a reason as there’s a little of something for every part of the genre’s fans to enjoy about it, whether it be the technical showmanship, the driving energetic rhythms or the sparkling melodies and leaves this a solid purchase for fans of the style in general.

Score: 96/100

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Sepulchral Curse - At the Onset of Extinction EP

Artist: Sepulchral Curse
Release Title: At the Onset of Extinction EP
Year: 2016
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Genre: Death/Black Metal
1. Envisioned in Scars
2. In Purifying Essence
3. Gospel of Bones
4. Disrupting Lights of Extinction

Advancing leaps and bounds, Finnish death/black metallers Sepulchral Curse have not entirely left behind their old school death metal past to incorporate Scandinavian black metal influences, merging it with their irrepressible Finnish brand of death metal. Taking a two-year gap to get the release out, the groups’ second effort is released December 16, 2016 on Transcending Obscurity Records.

As befits their newfound influences, the group displays a rather damaging and utterly impressive attack within here that brings their work together into a cohesive whole. Still raging through the old-school death metal realm, the dominance of the deep, churning rhythms and swirling patterns throughout here keeps this one barrelling forward with the utterly dominating atmosphere that’s helped along tremendously by the mainly furious, up-tempo attack featured. That high-speed attack makes the churning riff-work all the more impressive here, and with the newfound influences of melodic tremolo-picked rhythms that are interspersed along the way it creates a nice balance to these raging rhythms by allowing the tempo to drop into sprawling melodic sections that still retain a dense bite while owning to the charging ferocity displayed. This does strike as a minor point of annoyance as there are only four tracks on the release and it strikes as leaving it wanting more in that regard but as a primer for an upcoming album it’s quite impressive overall.

Without a whole lot of real flaws in the music and charging along with plenty of positive points gleaned from their rather impressive introduction of enjoyable elements to their sound, this is a wholly worthwhile effort for any fan of their past work, old-school death metal fans or the style in general.

Score: 89/100

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Toxic Ruin - Subterranean Terror

Artist: Toxic Ruin
Release Title: Subterranean Terror
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Thrash Metal
1. Submerged in Chaos
2. Immolation
3. Seat of Corruption
4. Subterranean Terror
5. The Human Condition
6. Rampage
7. ...of What Lies Beneath
8. Lord of Pandemonium
9. Alcoholocaust
10. Toxic Ruin

Formed realistically in 2014, Wisconsin-based thrashers Toxic Ruin formed from the ashes of heavy metal cover act The Ruin and took several members of the last remaining lineup into the new harder, faster version of the band. Shifting away from the heavy metal sound into this thrash-based variety, the group is finally able to offer their self-released full-length debut August 11, 2016.

For the main part of the album, there’s very little about this one that displays anything less than a galloping thrash assault. Fully utilizing the bands’ heavy metal past as the framework their riffing style, the band implements more of a simplistic chugging for the majority of the attack which is what makes for a somewhat bland general attack here with the band not really offering up anything overly dynamic or impressive here beyond spindly leads and dexterous drum work which can be found on dozens of others out there. It’s when the band drops that ploy in favor of more furious, charging elements here that this one really picks up nicely as it lets the riffing drop the plodding chug-based rhythms in favor of a more fluid thrashing style that’s a lot more vibrant, full of energy and offers even more twisting, churning patterns here that are far more enjoyable than their plodding mid-tempo style. Unfortunately, this isn’t a dominant factor through enough of the album to really generate the kind of impressive overall feel and tone it could’ve had since the blander stylings take center stage here for far more sections of the album and leave this only to selected pieces of tracks which make it all so frustrating when it features pieces of enjoyable sections on parts of the tracks. Granted, this is far better accomplished in the second half where that takes much more precedence than the first half yet is still a problem on the album overall.

Although there are a few problems found here that come from the album’s really bland sections taking up a rather large part of this one, the fact that there’s enough ravenous work on display to counter that does leave this one to be a rather curious piece worthwhile only for the most undiscerning thrash fanatic.

Score: 69/100

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Perpetual Demise - Arctic

Artist: Perpetual Demise
Release Title: Arctic
Year: 1996 (2016 reissue)
Label: DSFA Records (Vic Records reissue)
Genre: Doom/Death Metal
1. Of Confusion and Brutality
2. The Lord Paramount
3. Arctic
4. The Observer
5. Pyramids
6. Fall
7. Triangle Eye
8. The Tower
9. Upon Dark Grounds
10. On the Edge
11. Denial & Faith

Reissue tracklisting:
1. Of Confusion and Brutality
2. The Lord Paramount
3. Arctic
4. The Observer
5. Pyramids
6. Fall
7. Triangle Eye
8. The Tower
9. Upon Dark Grounds
10. On the Edge
11. Denial & Faith
12. Where the Ancients Remain
13. Cynical Control
14. Scarred by Silence
15. Awaiting the Unexpected
16. Conspiracy of Fear
17. Massacre to Be

Founded back in 1989, disbanded Dutch doom/death metal band Perpetual Demise quickly rose through the ranks of the underground on the strength of several strong demos and finally got their debut release out before ultimately disbanding. Having gotten to the last stage of their set-up, the groups’ sole full-length album was originally released in 1996 before getting a remastered reissue with bonus tracks November 25, 2016 on Vic Records.

This here manages to come off rather nicely in being quite an impressive and frankly engaging aspect of merging old-school influenced doom and death metal. The riff-work here is the greatest aspect of this one, managing to keep this one going along quite nicely with plenty of tight, churning patterns here recalling the type of death metal elements prominent at the time while still maintaining the kind of backbone required to gallop along at a few rather random spots with the uptempo rhythms and plenty of pounding rhythms blaring away, yet the vast majority of this one still carries with it ravenous doom metal characteristics in the plodding, sprawling tempos and addictive atmosphere. Given that this is furthered augmented by the use of clean vocals during a few select passages to further enhance the melodic quotient of the material throughout here, and overall this one manages to contain quite a varied and wholly appreciative cross-section here with the variety. The main problem with all this though is that there’s not a great deal of interesting work done here as the album generally resorts to rather repetitive means here to generate the vast majority of its death metal leanings by carrying on the same style of churning patterns throughout here for the duration of those segments. This leaves the album feeling really familiar by the time it’s over by going through the same overly-familiar rhythms and feelings here which is only enhanced by the rather curious decision to include the stuttering melodic rhythms throughout here which are wholly out-of-place and just sound like discordant clanging without any definitive direction. These here tend to drag the score of this one down.

Though this may very well be the definite version of this release due to the greater artwork, the enhanced sound, and spectacular bonus tracks, the fact that the music, on the whole, doesn’t really stand out a great deal overall here makes this one solely for the most devout and hardcore followers of Dutch death metal or doom/death metal in general.

Score: 78/100

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Narvik - Ascension to Apotheosis

Artist: Narvik
Release Title: Ascension to Apotheosis
Year: 2016
Label: Folter Records
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. Invokation II
2. Wounds of Aspiration
3. Geist zu Scherben
4. Psychotic Redeemer
5. Fecundity of Death
6. Berstende Säulen
7. The Shore
8. BarrenSemen

Continuing to offer a fine account of their style, German black metallers Narvik have taken the clear and refined focus of their previous releases and are embracing their darkened melodies and disharmonic vision into a tighter and clearer whole than ever before. Joined by bassist Nox and rhythm guitarist Agreas for their first recorded output with the group, their second full-length effort was released May 27, 2016 on Folter Records.

Embracing their core sound to the fullest, this here is quite the impressive variation on their particular attack with this one focusing on their traditional sound. This one mostly goes for that familiar second-wave inspiration in jangly tremolo riffing and plenty of cold, freezing riffing that makes for a rather impressive attack here with the band going for that cold Scandinavian-inspired feel while generating the kind of melodic tangents in the slower tempos to generate the kind of steady attack throughout here which is built on that swirling series of riffing patterns. When this one goes for a more mid-tempo assault, this really results in plenty of charging and wholly frantic series of rhythms accompanied by the fine introduction of melodic accents which becomes all the more apparent against the chaotic blasts featured elsewhere throughout here. It readily follows the school of attack throughout this from numerous other second-wave-worshiping acts to such a degree that it becomes a strength in how powerful and professional it is in this variation while also displaying the one lone downfall in how clearly it demonstrates this fact to such a wholly unyielding degree of worship as to make its own output nearly unimportant by comparison. It’s so close in fact that it really undoes itself somewhat even if that’s only slightly compared to the utter savageness of the attack here which does manage to overcome a lot of the familiarity found here.

Though this here is a mostly enjoyable and engaging slice of traditionally-flavored black metal, the fact that it’s so close in design and spirit to those acts limits it enough for this to really be knocked down only enough to have a real appeal to fans of the bands’ previous works or the most devout and hardcore old-school fanatic.

Score: 87/100

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Afterlife Symphony - Moment Between Lies

Artist: Afterlife Symphony
Release Title: Moment Between Lies
Year: 2016
Label: Revalve Records
Genre: Symphonic Metal
1. Half-Moon Night
2. The Abyss
3. Under the Sleeping Tree
4. My Existence to You
5. Broken Breath
6. Dreamer's Paradox
7. Seventh
8. Last Hope
9. Novembre, Pt. 1
10. Novembre, Pt. 2
11. Genesis of Eternity

Finally making their mark on the genre, Italian symphonic metallers Afterlife Symphony added the last segment to the name yet still keeping their blend of orchestral grandiosity with the strong sense of progressive riffing which strikes as quite the impressive overall attack. With the re-branded group finally prepared to unleash their pleasing sound, the groups’ second full-length album was released September 9, 2016 on Revalve Records.

Even with the name change, it’s still quite obvious the band has still kept up their glorious sound in full force throughout here which really goes for the grandiose and the symphonic throughout this one. The riffing in particular keeps itself aligned mostly in the mid-tempo chugging realm while still being draped in harmonious melodies and mesmerizing symphonic rhythms throughout here which makes for a much lighter and immersive experience here by bringing in plenty of the orchestral elements not to add bombastic grandiosity but more of an operatic approach here which goes hand-in-hand with those chugging mid-tempo rhythms in the riffing. This offers up the kind of challenging, swirling rhythm-work throughout here that gives it a progressive tinge to the music while still offering up that lighter atmosphere to give this the kind of near-Gothic approach that mixes in the warmer melodies rather than enhanced speed, leaving this one quite dramatic and emotional which goes so well with the professional arrangements and the gorgeous female vocals. Indeed, the fact that this one is at it’s fastest in the mid-tempo realm might be seen as a detriment to some by keeping this one solely devoid of the main element in favor of it’s appeal here with the gregarious power and over-the-top grandiosity, as the heavily emotional feel derived from the rhythms here aren’t that typical style and highlights this factor somewhat throughout here. Still, that’s clearly not the main aim here and there’s quite a lot to really like here.

Offering up plenty of enjoyable elements here even though the album’s main focus on going for the mid-tempo style leaves this one feeling quite sluggish at times if the focus is clearly kept away from their assumed intentions which makes this one quite enjoyable for fans of Gothic-tinged power metal or emotional symphonic metal in general.

Score: 89/100

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Booby Trap - Overloaded

Artist: Booby Trap
Release Title: Overloaded
Year: 2016
Label: Firecum Records
Genre: Crossover Thrash Metal
1. Bring It to the Mosh Pit
2. Overloaded
3. Fuck Off and Die!
4. Bloody Mary
5. Nightmare (Go Away)
6. Vulgar Display of Semen
7. One of Us Is Dead
8. Von Beer
9. Drunkenstein
10. Booby Trap 2.0
11. Carved in My Bones
12. Beber até Morrer (Ratos de Porão cover)
13. The Boat Is Full
14. Time for My Meds
15. Manifesto

Continuing to lead their country’s charging scene, Portuguese crossover legends Booby Trap have steadily built their legacy and reputation on the intensity and aggression of their youth as they continue to display their old-school influences. Taking a three-year gap that marks the recording debut of new drummer Hugo Lemos, the group’s second album was released October 17, 2016 on Firecum Records.

Still utilizing their old-school sound here, the bands’ still quite adept at managing to perform their rather frantic and engaging brand of material. Full of raucous and truly gripping thrash-style patterns alongside the hardcore influences still at play throughout here, this one manages to really generate the kind of high-energy style that remains quite prominent of the crossover style while working the tight, frantic rhythms into generally vicious runs of static, swirling hardcore patterns with the thrash connecting it all, which lets this one get in the usual feature of the genre with the vibrant, charging tracks and shorter running time usually featured here. Still, even with all this great work, there’s still the main issue here that manages to get attached to almost all crossover acts in that the influence of the hardcore riff-work here generally makes for quite a scattershot and generally haphazard series of attacks here that comes off far sloppier and much more amateurish than expected. Though it captures a raw, raucous energy quite well, that doesn’t really translate well into a professional-sounded tone or approach here which gives this one the kind of approach and appeal that doesn’t really serve it all that well. Likewise, the fact that this one features way too many pointless interludes to break up the tension which consists of lame sound-collages or skits from sampled soundbites that really aren’t that funny and only serve to showcase that amateurish side even further which is all mainly included simply because of the crossover influence. It’s really the biggest obstacle holding this one back.

Though it does fall victim to a large amount of structural issues that plague so many crossover bands, this one still has more than enough to like about it’s wild, raucous high-energy affair that it should be quite the enjoyable and appealing effort for fans of the bands’ past or the style in general.

Score: 70/100

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Wolf's Hunger - Bež'te živi vraćaju se mrtvi

Artist: Wolf's Hunger
Release Title: Bež'te živi vraćaju se mrtvi
Year: 2016
Label: Symbol of Domination Productions
Genre: Thrash/Black Metal
1. Bež'te živi vraćaju se mrtvi
2. U vatri sazdan
3. Gvozdeni puk (Kult rata)
4. Vostani Serbije
5. Rusija
6. Slava Gromu
7. Lešinari će slaviti moje ime
8. Egzekutor
9. Rod

Continuing to struggle against the odds, Serbian thrash/black metallers Wolf’s Hunger have taken their love World War I, Serbian history and Slavic heritage to the fullest as the group presents another hellish uncompromising and merciless attack. With a nine-year gap having a slew of line-up changes as guitarists Rastko and Milan left, former member Dovla returned as the second guitarist was filled by Igor Marić, drummer Milos Stanic left and was filled by Ivan Gašpar, the group’s second full-length was released September 9, 2016 on Symbol of Domination Productions.

Immediately from the start, it’s apparent throughout here this one goes for the type of explosive, raging rhythms that’s become quite apparent in their discography. Leaning so heavily on the thrash stylings for their work here, this one readily features the tight, bouncy riff-work that generates the style and tone of those earlier stylings quite nicely which comes from the generous ability to shift between the ravenous, full-throttle rhythms or the sprawling, meandering riff-work that keeps it all contained in a cohesive, dynamic state. Rarely deviating from these styles makes this one quite the impressive and truly immersive album by allowing a series of generously-padded elements to function within the exploits of the album’s penchant for fiery riffing and ferocious patterns that come from the occasional introduction of frosty arrangements and tremolo-picked riffing that denotes it’s black metal pedigree. While that leaves the attack here for the most part exceptionally fun and enjoyable, it can lead to a lot of overly stale and repetitious writing here as the bands’ determination to remain in these patterns keeps this from really exploring that many altogether different realms of their sound being so stuck here utilizing so many repeat performances of their admittedly-fearsome full-throttle rhythms or tight mid-tempo chugging patterns which are well in appearance here. Overall, it’s all that really holds this one back.

Not really offering up much of a problem that’s all too damaging and detrimental here, this one comes off a little repetitious but still fierce and fiery enough that the fans of the genre’s stylings or those that can appreciate the bands’ localized flavor will wholly enjoy this one.

Score: 89/100

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