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Friday, October 28, 2016

Testament - The Brotherhood of the Snake

Artist: Testament
Release Title; The Brotherhood of the Snake
Year: 2016
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Genre: Old-School Thrash Metal
1. Brotherhood of the Snake
2. The Pale King
3. Stronghold
4. Seven Seals
5. Born in a Rut
6. Centuries of Suffering
7. Neptune's Spear
8. Black Jack
9. Canna-Business
10. The Number Game

Still continuing to lead the underground, Bay Area thrash legends Testament have steadily risen in stature over the years to feature a discography that rivals many of their peers and puts them pound-for-pound as a top-tier level contender for the genre’s elite units. Following up their last album with a hiatus of only four years this time that sees founding bassist Greg Christian depart for a returning Steve DiGiorgio as well as Gene Hoglan moving from a session member to full-time drummer, their eleventh full-length album was released October 28, 2016 on Nuclear Blast Records.

As has become the norm since their late-90s resurgence, the majority of the album features the band’s now-trademark riffing style in full force. Employing their patented twin-guitar riffing style that carries this along with utterly ravenous precision, the record dives through a variety of strong, multi-tempo’d tracks that brings about a wholly vibrant thrashing energy while being able to drop back into a less-energetic but still hard-hitting rhythm for the main sections of the tracks. Mixed alongside these efforts are more simplistic, straightforward mid-tempo crunchers that are all quite adept at delving into their guitar-based muscle while easing off the throttle and providing a strong, perfectly crafted balance that makes the band so engaging and enjoyable. Their ability to adapt to these varying stylistic attacks, along with a heaping dose of melodic accessibility to match their strong riffing and tight, professionally-played performances, has been what’s made them so strong over the years and is a vital part of this one. Though these are all quite appealing for the most part, there’s still a small part of this one lacking that most important aspect of their signature sound which is the more memorable and vicious riffing. This really seems to opt for more straightforward rhythms and simplistic paces here which never really develops that one over-enthusiastic blast of raging thrash that has followed the band throughout their career, and too much of this one is stuck in the mid-tempo for the majority of their tracks and it really becomes noticeable on the second half where it’s not as engaging being filled with admittedly weak and filler tracks which is hardly a facet found in their career until now. It’s undoubtedly fun, but doesn’t extract that one factor which has been featured on their more prominent efforts.

As the band is still one of the more prominent and respected bands in the genre, this release still manages to solidly fit in their discography even with a few rather clunky, disposable tracks as the overall sense of fun established here makes this one far better than most attempts at the style and is still a solid choice for all fans of their previous work and thrashers in general.

Score: 87/100

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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Mesarthim - .- -... ... . -. -.-. .

Artist: Mesarthim
Release Title: .- -... ... . -. -.-. .
Year: 2016
Label: Avant Garde Music
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
1. .----
2. ..---
3. ...--
4. ....-
5. .....
6. -....

Adding to their impressive catalog, Australian atmospheric black metallers Mesarthim have gained immeasurably during the year as there’s plenty of advanced work to be found on their releases as they continue to explore the celestial bounds of the cosmos. Being the duo’s third overall release of work in the calendar year, their second full-length overall was originally self-released August 28, 2016 before a reissue October 25, 2016 on Avantgarde Music.

The main element that’s featured here is the fact that, this one manages to continue on the bands’ tradition of incorporating plenty of strong cosmic stylings into their attack. Once again built around the swirling tremolo riffing that’s synonymous with this particular style, replete with simplistic patterns and overly bombastic drumming that pounds away plenty of power for the style which really strongly keeps this one rooted in the atmospheric black metal realm. When this one introduces the celestial vibes here in the stark, sprawling rhythms and sonically-induced keyboards, there’s plenty of fine work to be had here with this one really generating the kind of atmospheric arrangements that perfectly accompany deep space such as this one attempts which is quite nicely integrated throughout the whole album and never really lets up. That does come back to bite this one slightly, though, in that the album does come off as so one-dimensional with it’s simplistic riff-work and celestial rhythms that it’s almost too predictable and doesn’t really offer the kind of surprises in the overall patterns to readily surprise much throughout this. Still, this is of such insignificance that there’s much more to like overall here with this attack that it does overcome many of the problems usually associated with this style.

While it’s not all that impressive in terms of variances or a dynamic attack, there’s much more to like here in terms of the bands’ well-worn celestial influences and their power at generating it that it manages to overcome this factor well enough to be readily appropriate for fans of their previous work or celestial black metal in general.

Score: 85/100

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Sacred Steel - Heavy Metal Sacrifice

Artist: Sacred Steel
Release Title: Heavy Metal Sacrifice
Year: 2016
Label: Cruz del Sur Records
Genre: Power/Traditional Heavy Metal
1. Intro (Glory Ride)
2. Heavy Metal Sacrifice
3. The Sign of the Skull
4. Hail the Godz of War
5. Vulture Priest
6. Children of the Sky
7. Let There Be Steel
8. Chaos Unleashed
9. The Dead Walk the Earth
10. Beyond the Gates of Nineveh
11. Iron Donkey

Continuing the charge here, German heavy metallers Sacred Steel have stayed true and steadfast in their mission and delivers another chapter of solid, uncompromising and memorable heavy metal following a three-year gap between albums. Celebrating their 20th year anniversary, the legendary group issues it’s ninth full-length effort October 14, 2016 to continue their fine union with Cruz del Sur Music.

As is to be expected here, there’s not a whole lot of deviation or difference here on what was present in their past works. This is a generally fast-paced assault of traditional metal that dives around frantic, fast-paced and generally explosive rhythms. This is generally of a majestic, epic quality here due mostly due to the overwhelming influence of epically-tinged power metal style melodies to the rhythms which give this the kind of melodic sensibility alongside the charging traditional metal riffing that powers this one for the most part. As well, the mid-tempo work here plods along at a rather generous pace that’s several ticks down from the fuller, more dynamic full-throttle tracks yet still carries enough of a bouncy up-tempo gallop that it readily manages to carry the melody to a more formidable point on the album. The ability to mix that all together into a toughened form of traditional metal with influences of power and speed metal in the riff-work carries itself incredibly well and manages to really make for a professional, powerful release. While none of this is new at all and feels like most other variants of their style, it’s still the consistency and effortless manner that the band is able to generate this kind of epic, melodic music efficiently and effectively, which is where this one really works well. As usual, the vocals can tend to grate on the nerves with the high-pitched wailing prominent but it’s a part of their style by now that it’s not an issue at all.

Showing no signs of quit here, there’s plenty to absolutely like about this release which is yet another stellar showcase of their style that there’s little need to pick apart the flaws that mainly serve as individual choices anyway here that the fans of the bands’ past or general power/traditional metal aficionados won’t be disappointed with this one.

Score: 93/100

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Brute Forcz - Brute Forcz EP

Artist: Brute Forcz
Release Title: Brute Forcz EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Heavy Metal
1. Phat Ass Girls
2. Death Is the Devil
3. (Ain't Gonna) Tear Me Down
4. Nightmare Hell

After initially starting their career, Los Angeles heavy metallers Brute Forcz have taken the pain and struggle of the last few years dealing with injuries, surgeries, bad finances, departures, and even death that have held up their career path. Now finally returning after a four-year hiatus with a new four-track release, this new EP brings the power-trio back together for a self-released January 2016 release.

As was present on their past efforts, the band plays a vibrant and generally explosive attack of simplistic old-school heavy metal loaded with all manner of classic heavy metal rhythms. The charging tempos on display allow the group to maneuver along through a select amount of traditional metal-inspired metal riffing that has a distinctly straightforward approach due to the constantly buzzing bass-lines rumbling along throughout here which keeps the music fairly balanced while generating the kind fiery base-line needed to make the music somewhat up-tempo and catchy. The fact that the release only features four tracks, though, brings out the main problem with the group in that they really epitomize the concept of the one-trick affair as the group is a simplistic-but-enjoyable affair when the music is a bit more upbeat and fiery but when they drop the tempos into a more relaxed chug-based attack the music is boring, plodding and exceptionally dull as there’s no real dynamics or variation to really liven things up, a feat that also manages to pop up on those livelier ones as well with the fact that there’s just not a whole lot on display here once you’ve heard the bands’ basic attack. They generate a fine tempo and enthusiastic energy, but beyond that there’s not much else here.

Being quite short and brief which really highlights the bands’ flaws quite easily and openly, there’s not a whole lot to really get worked up with about this release other than perhaps the most dedicated trad-metal aficionado or fans of this simplistic heavy metal style.

Score: 55/100

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Baptism - V: The Devil's Fire

Artist: Baptism
Release Title: V: The Devil's Fire
Year: 2016
Label: Season of Mist Underground Activists
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. Natus ex Ignis
2. Satananda
3. The Sacrament of Blood and Ash
4. Devil's Fire
5. Abyss
6. Cold Eternity
7. Malignant Shadows
8. Buried with Him

One of the scene’s most enigmatic artists, Finnish one-man black metallers Baptism continue to evolve around the lone artist Lord Sarcofagian who brings his years of experience to the project which captures the ravenous spirit of the genre’s old-school sound. Taking on vocal and guitar duties on the release while surrounding himself with various session musicians and several guest appearances from genre regulars, the fifth full-length release was issued July 26, 2016 on new-label Season of Mist Underground Activists.

From the onset here this one dwells heavily in the old-school scene popularized by their Finnish countrymen as they employ that ever-familiar swirling tremolo-picked pattern from the scene. This one goes for a simplistic, droning riffing style with a raw, gravelly atmosphere present throughout which is where this one really generates it’s strong, frantic rhythms quite well as there’s a savage, feral energy to these blistering tracks. Accompanying these fine rhythms is the addition of highly-melodic, sprawling set-pieces here which feature a rather pronounced easing off the throttle to allow the majestic keyboards to flow over with plenty of symphonic elements present alongside these blistering raw tracks which is quite an unusual yet still mostly effective set-up present here. Still, that does end up becoming the biggest problem to overcome here with the fact that these rhythm changes are handled in a rather clunky manner in this. Rather than build-up to a melodic outburst or working them into the track organically, they just seem to pop up out of nowhere in the track and seem to halt the momentum cold without much deviation at all which really makes them come off quite surprising when they occur which shouldn’t be a problem considering the bands’ as experienced as it is at making this type of music. It’s about the only thing holding this one back, though, as the rest of the music is quite solid and works incredibly well.

With a lot of rather enjoyable elements to be found here and not a great deal of flaws that aren’t that detrimental anyway, there’s a lot to really like with this one as the savageness and unrelenting ferocity of it’s attack overcomes the weaknesses and gives it a solid recommend for fans of the projects’ past work or the Scandinavian black metal scene in general.

Score: 85/100

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Harvest (Pan) - Omnivorous EP

Artist: Harvest (Pan)
Release Title: Omnivorous EP
Year: 2016
Label: Evil Records/Symbol of Domination Productions
Genre: Death/Thrash/Groove Metal
1. Intro (Wicked Beauty)
2. Lavinia
3. Medusoide
4. King of Nothing
5. Hellraiser
6. Omnivorous
7. Letchworth Hell

Formed in late 2012, Panamanian death metallers Harvest have completely taken several years to produce their sound and have taken on their rather intense and aggressive styling through rabid live appearances which have brought them to their current state. Finally able to generate enough material for their first release, their debut EP was originally released May 31, 2016 in a co-release between Evil Records and Symbol of Damnation Productions.

Bringing their sound to the forefront, the bands’ main strength here is the ability to generate a high degree of churning death and thrash metal with plenty of churning groove elements. Though the main formation is built around the death/thrash mixture here where it’s heavily focused on the deep, churning riffing and fiery energetic patterns that add a great deal of energy into the patterns to make for a mostly fun and engaging up-tempo burst of aggression which manages to keep this one going along at a pretty rapid pace for the most part. When that gets added to the groove-centered rhythms added alongside these engaging and generally straightforward patterns the result is a fast and violent affair with the deep, churning crunch offered by the riffing turning into a prominent attack here with the album shifting from the galloping thrash to a stuttering groove charge alternatively within the tracks. On the whole this is quite fun and really gets a lot out of the music here, though it’s still not all that well-developed here with some awkward and clunky transitions into these different sections within the album standing out and causing it to result in some sluggish tempos here within the tracks rather than simply generating a more coherent feel with album feeling a little too scattershot because of the different transitions. While this is still a debut release and can be overlooked quite easily, there’s still this aspect that needs to be brought up.

Not necessarily the most advanced or competent at generating this desired kind of mixture that others are far more capable of accomplishing, there’s still some fine work done here that overcomes those flaws somewhat, which should still be taken into account of being their first work, that this is a band to watch for fans of death/thrash or big on violent, aggressive modern metal.

Score: 75/100

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Demonic Obedience - Nocturnal Hymns to the Fallen

Artist: Demonic Obedience
Release Title: Nocturnal Hymns to the Fallen
Year: 2016
Label: Satanath Records/Sevared Records
Genre: Death/Black Metal
1. Create the Shapeless
2. Portal of the Sacred Kan
3. Forced Obscenity
4. Impermissible Irreverence Pt. 1
5. Nocturnal Imagery
6. Godmade Beast
7. Impermissible Irreverence Pt. 2
8. Gehenna

Now finding residence in Scotland, Greece-based one-man death/black metallers Demonic Obedience have brought their intensity and explosive fury to the forefront while trying to hold a connection to both places involving the projects’ residency. Taking a two-year gap between releases, the second full-length album was originally released May 18, 2016 in a co-release between Sevared Records and Satanath Records.

Combining their styles into one wholesale effect, this here manages to take on quite a few elements of each element here into creating a dark whole. That is primarily based around the album’s predominantly dark, churning riff-work that keeps this one charging along with plenty of ferocious death metal-styled rhythms as the majority of the tracks fall into agonized sprawling patterns or thumping chugs which keep the focus of the album firmly rooted in the death metal realm. The tighter, blackened rhythms featured here top off this effect with a stylized sense of controlled fury that accentuates the darkened atmosphere rather well as it  keeps alternating rather nicely between these variations and offers the album quite a generally positive experience by not getting bogged down in the one-note approach so many efforts who attempt this style also make. Flying between faster, more up-tempo numbers with churning riffing alongside the slower, more agonized sprawling sections does manage to give this a distinct variety within itself, but it also manages to highlight the fact that there’s not a whole lot of differentiability within the tracks themselves, which tend to focus on the same few select rhythms within here and never changes the overall rhythms or approaches here, ending up causing the album to run together quite easily here especially in the second half where it’s entirely possible to lose where you are in the running order as the tracks have already yielded their surprises and don’t really offer the surprise variations that were featured in the top half. Otherwise there’s not a whole lot to dislike here.

Though it’s quite familiar and tends to run itself into the ground without much variation throughout here, there’s still such a prominent and powerful attack at the core of the film that it manages to overcome a lot of those issues and manages to hold itself up enough to make for a worthwhile choice for any fan of the style or his previous works as well.

Score: 82/100

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Swine Overlord - Entheogenesis

Artist: Swine Overlord
Release Title: Entheogenesis
Year: 2016
Label: Gore House Productions
Genre: Brutal/Slam Death Metal
1. I: The Creator
2. Severed from the Godhead
3. Graceless
4. Procreating the Offspring of Gods and Men
5. II: The Preserver
6. (I)conoclasm
7. Invoking an Obsidian Liturgy
8. Riverchrist
9. A Delusion's Paradise
10. III: The Destroyer
11. Altars of a Putrid Resurrection
12. Voidweaver
13. Whispers of the Ineffable
14. Gazing into the Shadow's Maw

An almost-exclusive internet collaboration, US slammers Swine Overlord have brought plenty of progressive touches to the brutal death metal realm as the band goes further than before in this style than they have previously. A densely-layered concept album which offers a unique look at the development of the human psyche through the lens of western religion and eastern spirituality, the group’s sophomore album was originally released September 23, 2016 on Gore House Productions.

This here continues to showcase one of the finest bands in the genre working through quite an impressive and enjoyable repertoire of brutal death metal. Taking that tight, obliterating riff-work through heavy, dense slams and plenty of savage tempos creates a rather harsh and dynamic soundscape that delivers a strikingly ominous tone here with the sweeping rhythm patterns, leaving this one with quite a striking balance throughout. Alongside these efforts are far more built around the album’s more technically-challenging riffing which takes on progressively-tinged noodling, sprawling atmospheric sections with light tinged riffing and a rather more explosive series of paces compared to the more straightforward slam-based tracks which just crush onward with one slam after another. That highly dynamic variety is offered throughout here and really makes for a more engaging offering as the darker rhythmic work is quite well meshed alongside the light atmospheric noodling on display leaving this with a fine overall attack. There’s only a few small issues to be had here which lower this one slightly which comes from the album’s set-up as a concept album which means there’s several short interludes which signify the changes in the storyline yet do nothing but really break up the momentum brought about by the change in styles between the tracks and really could’ve been changed. That also takes into account it’s next issue, which is the overlong running order as it’s a pretty hefty, beefy album to get through and putting in these short interludes is a cause of that occurring. Otherwise, there’s not a whole lot really wrong with this one.

Though there’s a few issues here with the album in that it’s a touch too long and doesn’t really seem to have much use for it’s interludes beyond stretching it out, there’s still more than enough to really enjoy here with this one that this is a worthwhile choice for any slammer or fan of brutal death metal in general.

Score: 94/100

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Ribspreader - Suicide Gate - A Bridge to Death

Artist: Ribspreader
Release Title: Suicide Gate - A Bridge to Death
Year: 2016
Label: Xtreem Music
Genre: Old-School Death Metal
1. Descent of the Morbid
2. Centuries of Filth
3. Eligi
4. The Suffering Earth
5. A Worthless Breed
6. World Dismemberment
7. In Mankind's Rotting Grip
8. The Remains in the Wall
9. Under Ash-Filled Skies

One of his never-ending projects, Swedish death metallers Ribspreader are another in the large crop of bands from Rogga Johansson which he uses to spread his passion of old-school death metal as this one is one of the longest lasting efforts. With drummer Brynjar Helgetun and guitarist Andreas Carlsson being replaced by Jeramie Kling and Taylor Nordberg respectively, the groups’ sixth full-length is released June 15, 2016 on new-label Xtreem Music.

Whereas the majority of the bands are more of a straightforward old-school act, this particular entity of Rogga’s centers around a stylish worship of the Swedish scene in general. This one manages to take on that typically grinding buzzsaw riffing style complete with the swirling thrash melodies to offer up the kind of speed-drenched efforts that reek of that atmosphere and power that come from the album’s near-continuous onslaught of ravenous riff-work in this dynamic style. Working in that presence of dread and doom here in which they add in a slightly more pronounced galloping pace that acts as a melodic sprawl against the ravenous actions elsewhere while bringing about plenty of tight rhythms and atmosphere here to counteract the driving intensity displayed here. This attack is quite impressive and enjoyable for the most part with the album going between the ravenous and the more reserved sections in a rather fine variety, even if the album isn’t really all that original or creative for the most part. It steals from the playbook of so many other acts from this time-period and style that there’s not much about it that really stands out beyond the energy and enthusiasm from the tracks, and for the most part is what really holds this one back.

Generating plenty of ravenous Swedish-styled influences together for one rather fine project that doesn’t really do much interesting or original work here which harms this one somewhat enough in order to really leave this for the most devout followers of Swedish death metal, Rogga aficionados or old-school death fans in general while others should heed caution here due to its issues.

Score: 89/100

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Irillion - Egledhron EP

Artist: Irillion
Release Title: Egledhron EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
1. Turpial
2. Tierra negra (Parte I)
3. La lucha del Catatumbo
4. Tierra negra (Parte II)
5. El Yann
6. Egledhron

Formed just in 2015, Venezuelan one-man atmospheric black metallers Irillion have formed themselves into a solid semblance of atmospheric black metal as the instrumental portion of their attack is a rather true portion of the style. As sole composer and instrumentalist Rayner V. continues along his fine quest, the project's debut release was originally self-released digitally September 24, 2016.

On the whole this here is wholly simplistic and rather primitive-styled black metal built around low-fi, swirling tremolo riffing and buzzing basslines while featuring raw, thudding drumming pound away in the background. The simple-minded riffing is given quite a free-reign of the material here which lets the atmospheric passages weigh on this one quite heavily with the straightforward arrangements bringing that buzzing tone and tremolo riff-work to let the band be able to switch over quite nicely from the blaring riffing to a more relaxed, melodic atmosphere. This comes off rather nicely throughout here with a nice deal of variety thrown into the mix, though the album’s overall simplistic nature does seem to strike up a series of overly familiar patterns and rhythms quite easily. This one tends to run into the same overall patterns quite early and often with long stretches of the running time devoted to simplistic strumming and plodding tempos over and over again which does evoke a fine atmosphere as was intended even though it’s quite repetitious and could certainly get hammered out over time. Likewise, the raw recording material is a bit much for this one to take at times with the weak-sounding material likely putting some off who care more for a professional, polished sort of material. Though these do hamper the project, they’re somewhat excusable due to being part of their debut release.

Despite a few minor issues here holding it back that are more likely concerned with being involved in a debut release and can be somewhat excused and forgiven here, the remaining parts here are certainly worthwhile enough for those who can look past those for some decent-enough and overly simplistic atmospheric black metal.

Score: 65/100

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Paganizer - On the Outskirts of Hades EP

Artist: Paganizer
Release Title: On the Outskirts of Hades EP
Year: 2016
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Genre; Swedish Death Metal
1. Angry All the Time
2. Adjacent to Purgatory
3. The Netherworld Carnivale
4. On the Outskirts of Hades

Part of Rogga Johansson’s never-ending cycle of bands, Swedish death metallers Paganizer are his main band and one of the oldest of his projects dedicated to his passion and love for Swedish-sounding death metal that runs through his dozens of projects. The third of three EPs released by the project during the calendar year, this new release of ravenous death metal was issued August 1, 2016 on Transcending Obscurity Records.

As is to be expected here, this one is pretty simple to determine it’s old-school Swedish-influenced death metal sound with a rather furious and vicious blast of charging up-tempo death metal. The material is wholly simplistic and take on the swirling buzzsaw grooves popularized by the bands first coming out of Sweden in the early-90s though warped through a more Floridian tone that adds varied sense of dynamics and cutting tone rather than the infamous chainsaw-laced charge that completes the traditional Swedish model. Likewise, the ability to shift gears into a more straightforward doom-like charge that adds a sprawling urgency to it that completes the old-school feel. This is a truly enjoyable burst of old-school death metal and is really only undone by the fact that only has four tracks which ends this one so early that it just ends up being quite abrupt and just quite quickly, leaving this one with a weird ending rush. Otherwise, this one has a score of positive material to like here.

Being just a touch too short to really get the most bang out of it’s attack, this one still manages to offer up such a solid, overall blistering account of Swedish-influenced death metal here that this one really should work well for all fans of this kind of death metal or Rogga’s projects in general.

Score: 93/100

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Eufori - Humörsvängningar

Artist: Eufori
Release Title: Humörsvängningar
Year: 2016
Label: Black Lion Productions
Genre: Depressive Black Metal
1. Avgrund
2. Det är fan inte värt
3. Humörsvängningar
4. Inget mer
5. Höstdepressioner
6. Insikt
7. Låt snön falla (Vanhelga cover)
8. Eufori

Formed in early 2016 in Stockholm, Swedish depressive black metallers Eufori came together when members of the band Mist of Misery found out that ideas written originally for that band didn’t fit within the context of that sound and formed a separate band to share those releases. Following an EP release earlier in the year, the duo’s full-length debut was released September 30, 2016 on Black Lion Productions.

From the beginning this one makes it pretty clear how much it takes on the depressive nature of this chosen style by really working the simplicity of the structures quite well. The droning, chilling tremolo riffing here and the hauntingly slow, simple arrangements here alongside the one-note drumming makes for a loose, solitary experience wherein the cold nature of the material makes for a fine atmospheric vibe within here. That atmosphere, aided alongside with the swirling riff-work in massive, sprawling methods with plenty of endless simple-minded acoustic strumming or just straightforward simplistic riffing here repeating the same rhythm on repeat for long stretches of time gives this more of an atmospheric feel here that goes well in hand with the hoarse, shrieking vocals which further tie this one into the depressive realm as they mesh perfectly with the cold, isolated riff-work. While there’s an outburst of somewhat lighter and less depressive riffing throughout here, this is only done on several occasions and really sticks out here as being too out-of-tune with what’s being attempted here as this bouncy material goes against the solitary, lonely atmosphere of the rest of the tracks. The overly simplistic vibe throughout here might be quite troubling for some here as there’s just not all that much variation here beyond a wholly simple-minded approach which generates quite a one-note feeling in here in regards to plenty of others out there which show some slightly more dynamic approaches against this one.

Though the simple-minded approach found here does give this one a rather rudimentary feel in the genre, there’s more than enough solid points of interest here that it remains quite a worthwhile listen for fans of the members’ other project or the depressive/suicidal genre in general though those looking for something more dynamic in the genre should heed caution.

Score: 78/100

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Reapter - Cymatics

Artist: Reapter
Release Title: Cymatics
Year: 2016
Label: Revalve Records
Genre: Progressive Thrash Metal
1. Repeat
2. Tsunami
3. Time Lapse
4. The Alchemist
5. Life and Horror
6. Behind a Mask
7. Useless
8. Fallen Angels
9. Tram Out
10. Omega Revolution

Following the success of their last album, Italian thrashers Reapter have continued to utilize their solid basis of mixing classic thrash metal with solid traditional metal rhythms and a hefty dose of prog to great effect.Telling ten captivating stories about a term coined by the physician Hans Henry to describe acoustic effects of sound wave phenomena, the group’s second full-length effort was released after a six-year gap September 23, 2016 with a CD release October 7, 2016 on Revalve Records.

For the most part here, this one is a quite impressive attack that really leaves this one with a solid overall basis on display. The main crunch here from the traditional thrashing and progressive leanings is where this one really works incredibly well as the mainly up-tempo rhythms are technically-challenging and complex with a strong sense of energy throughout, making for some rather fun times here. The fine mixture of ravenous thrashing energy with these complex rhythms gives this the kind of impressive and dynamic crunchy attack while making splendid use of the tightly-wound riff-work for a rather impressive melodic structure to add onto the challenging riff-work which is all highly impressive and enjoyable throughout here until it gets to the second half of the album which is where this one somewhat struggles. Either through the riffing wearing out it’s welcome or simply devolving into a series of weak, spindly riffing that just sounds quite lame and rather forced, there’s little about these tracks that matches the energy, the ferocity or the overwhelming sense of technicality that’s featured here with the main overwhelming sense of these tracks being simply filler in that end. This here is the main factor that holds it back with the positives being quite fun.

Though the weak second half does lower this one leading into the finale, there’s still a strong amount of solid work that works quite strongly here with the ravenous thrashing and complex riff-work that really does come off nicely here for fans of this kind of challenging technically-precise thrashing or more melodic-leaning thrash fans.

Score: 86/100

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Pessimist (Gr) - Call to War

Artist: Pessimist (Gr)
Release Title: Call to War
Year: 2010 (2016 reissue)
Label: Self-Released/Independent (MDD Records reissue)
Genre: German Thrash Metal
1. Trommelfeuer
2. The Massacre of Nanking
3. Infernal Death
4. Prelude (Arm for War)
5. Call to War
6. Son of Satan
7. It's Time to Fuck (with Hate)
8. Death by Torture
9. Another Day in Mania

Formed in late 2006, the German thrash band Pessimist established the ability to perform spirited old-school German-styled thrash and shows plenty of signs of becoming one to watch in the future with an immensely enjoyable and polished effort from a band this young. Following several quickly-released demos and an EP, the prepares this debut full-length independently March 27, 2010 with  CD reissue December 10, 2010 on Firefield Records and a new reissue September 23, 2016 from MDD Records.

For the most part, this is a pretty impressive debut from a band that’s a lot better than it should to be this devastating and destructive this early in their career. A running feature throughout the album is the absolutely devastating guitar riffs employed here, which are tinged with that dirty, grimy sound that signals prime 80s-era German thrash to the fullest in the heavy, crunchy flavor. Filled with a destructive attitude, the riffing onslaught on display is a true assault managing to stuff the songs with an impressive array of riffs that are downright memorable as well as being virtuosic solo displays. Complete with thunderous double-bass drumming and a groovy, slinky set of bass-lines this here is some primo thrash that’s far better than expected to come from a band this early in the game. Now, stylistically, the second half here isn’t all that much different from the first half and features a majority of the same features, but there’s a minor flaw that does erupt from this set-up. The biggest difference in the two halves is the quality of the songwriting, with a clear and discernible ability to tell that the better songs are placed up at the top of the album while the weaker and clearly-less-interesting efforts are on the back half. Most of this is due to the songwriting rather than the performances, as the songs in and of themselves lack the spark of their preceding songs, coming off more like rehashes rather than being individual, unique tracks as the repetitive nature of the songs becomes apparent. This is certainly not a true flaw in the album, as the tracks can be enjoyable for some, but the somewhat subpar writing is apparent and drags it down rather than any sort of issue within the record. Still, it’s really the only thing really wrong with this one.

While the second half here is of somewhat lesser quality than the first in the songwriting department that leaves them without the bite of the top half, sonically this is purely enjoyable and competent thrash that follows along the German template quite accurately and is heartily recommended to aficionados of German thrash or just plain pure thrash fans in general.

Score: 90/100

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Johansson and Speckmann - Edge of the Abyss

Artist: Johansson and Speckmann
Release Title: Edge of the Abyss
Year: 2016
Label: Soulseller Records
Genre: Old-School Death Metal
1. Perpetuate the Lie
2. You've Stepped on a Dime
3. Misanthropy
4. Turn It Around
5. The Last Witness Is Barely Alive
6. The One They All Despised
7. The Edge of the Abyss
8. A Concept
9. Already in Disguise

Wasting no time in between recording for each members’ other groups, International death metal collaboration Johansson and Speckmann have quickly come together to offer what might be the crowning opus for each member in the calendar year. This time joined by monster drummer Brynjar Helgetun and also presenting lead guitarist Kjetil Lynghaug, the group’s third full-length effort was released September 16, 2016 through Soulseller Records.

As was prominently featured in the last album, this one here comes from the utterly dominating old-school attack that manages to feature the qualities of their two bands together in a fine mix. This one goes from the typical churning, swirling riff-patterns and the frenzied blasting tempos featured here that are mixed alongside the furious simplistic thrashing sections that create a palpable surge of energy and intensity throughout here while allowing for some strong agonized sprawling that gives it a strong touch of the old-school throughout here. When it gets to the mid-tempo rhythms become far more prominent and the album becomes far more straightforward and simplistic which is what drops this in favor of these plodding efforts which play far more in line with what occurs in both members’ other projects. That variety here is quite prominent within the confines of the album with it making a concerted effort to appeal to both fan-bases quite readily without much difficulty and the release makes for a great time for fans of both members by featuring the kind of work mostly familiar to each other. This tends to make the album come off like simply one of them is guesting on the others’ work which is the sign of a true collaboration between them yet doesn’t really pack any kind of surprises overall by simply providing more of the same here. While that is indeed quite a package, the lack of creativity and uniqueness about this project does become noticeable.

Though it really lacks much in the way of creativity or really any surprises of any kind, the fact that this one really seems honest about working to the strengths of both members here who come from a similar background that this is a no-doubt interest to fans of both members as well as any fanatic of old-school death metal.

Score: 93/100

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Johansson and Speckmann - Mask of the Treacherous

Artist: Johansson and Speckmann
Release Title: Mask of the Treacherous
Year: 2015
Label: Vic Records
Genre: Old-School Death Metal
1. Mask of the Treacherous
2. Inhuman Lust
3. Through the Filth and Riddled Ages
4. The Wicked Marches On
5. The Bringer of Pain
6. I'll End Your Rotten Life
7. Within Reach
8. Enslaved in Filth
9. A Grave for This World

Furthering their success from the previous album, International death metal collaboration Johansson and Speckmann are certainly putting their collective might together in this project that brings the two luminaries together once again for a spectacular assault of old-school death metal. Gaining in their abilities from the previous release, the project’s second full-length record was released February 23, 2015 on Vic Records.

As befits the status of the men involved here, this is their usually simplistic and overly primitive-styled mixture of straightforward death metal augmented with strong thrashing overtones. This utterly simplistic and not all that varied music within here allows it either to be a rather tight and ferocious charge swirling with mid-tempo agonized riffing and plodding paces or generates a crunchy thrash-laden series of rhythms that offer up some rather frantic and blistering efforts. It works quite well in keeping that nicely mixed with the attacks getting balanced incredibly well between the churning old-school riffing with the thrashing energy, and it really sounds like a full-on mixture of both artists’ main groups. Going for the mix of tight, churning thrash with the agonized sprawling rhythms really gives this the album’s greatest strength as there’s a slight variance between the styles in terms of the different approaches reaching a rather strong approach for the old-school tactics that are featured within here. While there’s plenty of rather enjoyable work here because of that, it tends to run itself into quite predictable realms because it’s all about letting their main bands come together in one area without much deviation and it does crop up as something within this one. The tracks really fall into either category and it does have a really simplistic attack that does really affect this one slightly. Still, it’s got plenty to really like here in other regards.

Though it does find itself losing a little bit in the overall set-up with the approach running itself too close to each other at times, this one still manages to effectively capture the old-school feeling from both members that this overcomes the flaws for the most part and becomes a wholly appealing choice for fans of either members’ projects or old-school death metal in general.

Score: 93/100

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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Centinex - Doomsday Rituals

Artist: Centinex
Release Title: Doomsday Rituals
Year: 2016
Label: Agonia Records
Genre: Swedish Death Metal
1. Flesh Passion
2. From Intact to Broken
3. Dismemberment Supreme
4. Generation of Flies
5. The Shameful Few
6. Doomsday
7. Exist to Feed
8. Death Decay Murder
9. Sentenced to Suffer
10. Faceless

One of the genre’s longest-running veterans, Swedish death metal horde Centinex were among the first exponents of the Swedish style sound in their first incarnation before the band eventually split up. With the reformed line-up carrying on for the second straight release not wanting to wait decades for a release in a two-year hiatus, the group’s tenth overall full-length is released July 8, 2016 on Agonia Records.

There’s little surprise about this one considering everything known about this group’s origins and history. This is straightforward Stockholm-flavored death metal replete with churning buzzsaw riffing and stylish grooves that run the gamut from blistering full-throttle thrashers to a more generous mid-tempo gallop. Those slow down the focus into a driving plodding groove which incorporates some deep, heavy chugging into near doom-like sprawls that are still given enough of a hard-hitting, charging atmosphere with the churning buzzsaw riff-work while giving this some solid variety and deviation that gives this a solid, engaging time throughout here by giving the different styles plenty of room to really breathe in their rhythms. While stylistically this approach is ordinarily enjoyable, there’s a few minor distressing features here that hold this one back somewhat. Though the attack is generally crushing, there’s not nearly enough of the faster tracks here which really makes this one feel slower than it really should. This generates it’s fair share of savage tracks, but it comes off with just as much slower ones which eat up some of the time here. As well, there’s also the overall brevity of the album as a whole to contend with as this one really could’ve used more on those tracks here. It’s quite short here as a handful of tracks are over three-and-a-half minutes really makes them seem like they’re over before they even begin before it moves onto the next strike and they never quite let the rhythms breathe, which is what holds this one back somewhat.

Though it’s got some rather troubling issues here that do hold this one back somewhat, it’s still a strong, powerful display of Swedish-styled death metal from one of the genre’s first originators that manage to make this a solid choice for fans of that particular scene, old-school death fanatics or less discerning death metal fans in general.

Score: 83/100

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Hellschwadron - Storming Obliteration

Artist: Hellschwadron
Release Title: Storming Obliteration
Year: 2016
Label: Mercenary Musik
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
1. Doomed to Encirclement
2. This Is War
3. Killed, Wounded and Missing
4. Horizon of Destruction
5. Fury of the Enemy
6. Incendiary Bombs of Ruin
7. Will Die Before We Surrender
8. We Hold This Bridgehead
9. Within These Trenches
10. Storming Obliteration
11. Attack upon Command
12. Into Hellfire
13. Infiltration
14. Final Devastation

Quickly storming onto the scene, German/American black/thrashers Hellschwadron have combined together from various projects to create a rather vicious and utterly pummeling assault of old-school black and thrash metal. Unleashing a concept album about World War I and II, the two-piece project is ready to release their full-length debut July 15, 2016 on Mercenary Musik.

From the outset the band here is quite proficient and effective at generating the kind of explosive, frenzied old-school styled attack that’s quite prominently displayed here. The rattling rhythms displayed here are quite effective at thrashing along with a furious intensity and energy that gives this one the ravenous ferocity here which is quite impressive while offering plenty of blaring rhythms with the buzzing riff-work humming along nicely with these intense blasting tracks carrying on throughout here. Even more to this point if the album’s utterly raging sound which lets that blaring beast of a rhythm section generate a truly captivating energy here as it blares along incredibly well with the frantic blasts unleashing throughout here while featuring the kind of simplistic and unwavering thrash riffing which gives this the kind of furious tone and aggression that matches the rather dark tone here with the incorporation of the black metal aesthetics to the music. For the most part this here is quite the savage offering, even if there’s quite a dynamic and same-sounding effort here that comes into play with this one having no real variation at all between the majority of the tracks as it’s basically one extra-long blur of sonic violence dished out. That works in small doses, though it’s somewhat more complicated here by the exhaustive running time that’s far too bloated on an album that probably could’ve used a minor trim here and there to eliminate this. However, it has nothing to do with the content of the music itself which is quite fun and enjoyable.

Though it’s only featured in a minor flaw with an issue that should get cleared up as the band carries along in their career, that’s not nearly enough to really hold this one back from being an utterly enjoyable burst of ravenous thrashing that makes for a worthwhile listen from fans of old-school thrash or any black/thrash aficionados.

Score: 93/100

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Infant Death - Violent Rites

Artist: Infant Death
Release Title: Violent Rites
Year: 2016
Label: Apocalyptic Empire Records
Genre: Black/Thrash Metal
1. Troops of Dead
2. Vomit Funeral
3. Burning Wild
4. Subhuman Elimination
5. Mutilation Hammer
6. Blasphemy Prevails
7. Purified Remains
8. Malicious Lust
9. Exploder
10. False Prophesies

Simply gaining in experience with each release, Norwegian black/thrashers Infant Death have gained a formidable reputation following their previous releases and continues to showcase their frenzied and schizophrenic sound to the fullest old-school appeal. Following a split release earlier in the year and with a two-year gap between releases, the power-trio prepares it’s third full-length effort September 23, 2016 on Apocalyptic Empire Records.

As has been the bands’ style, this here is a series of ravenous, tightly-wound speed metal throughout the album which pretty much carries this one along without much deviation at all and really makes for quite the impressive attack. The charging, blistering speed and utterly relentless tempos here generated by the frantic, raving riffing makes for the tightly-wound rhythms that are characterized by their speed metal leanings while also managing to incorporate the styles template for raging, chaotic patterns that generally make for an out-of-control feeling. That inherent speed and tight, dense thrashing style is quite reckless in doling out it’s rhythms here which is an utterly enjoyable and dynamic charge that makes this one so enjoyable as there’s generally no let-up from the attack, and with the utterly furious patterns full of those frenzied arrangements on display that makes for an even tighter, more explosive offering as every track here is just utterly frantic and furious about doling out this style attack. Frankly, that does lead into the album’s one main minor flaw here in that it’s simply way too one-note with it’s approach as every track is generally a non-stop series of relentless insanity in the riffing generating a furious tempo throughout here which doesn’t change or deviate and it can lead to the album getting quite lost in itself rather easily. Because the tracks are generally indistinguishable from each other and they’re all pretty much the same length as well this one can become quite hard to tell where it’s at here and it can be a minor issue for some. However, this is barely a problem overall and isn’t too big of an issue with all the savage intensity on display.

Though this one is a pretty similar-sounding effort without much general difference between many of the tracks here, the album’s overall directness and savage approach makes this a far-more appealing and interesting effort as it goes along and generates plenty of interesting parts here for blackened thrash fans or speed metal aficionados.

Score: 95/100

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Brutally Deceased - Satanic Corpse

Artist: Brutally Deceased
Release Title: Satanic Corpse
Year: 2016
Label: Doomentia Records
Genre: Swedish Death Metal
1. The Art of Dying
2. The Disclosure (In the Circle of Thy Bowels)
3. Hostile Earth
4. Epoch of Self-Denial
5. Where No Gods Dare
6. Ruthless Cleansing
7. Withstanding the Funeral
8. At One With the Dead
9. In Torment We Shall Strive

Not exactly an expected location, Czech Republic death metallers Brutally Deceased has continued to forego more traditional sounds of their home country for a straight-up Swedish-influenced assault that’s been their trademark starting in 2007 when they formed. Furthering their connection with Doomentia Records, the groups’ third album is released August 18, 2016.

From the outset here this one is straightforward and utterly unrepentant Swedish-influenced death metal that takes it’s cues straight from the heart of Stockholm with it’s deep swirling buzzsaw grooves and churning riff-work. These here are the mostly up-tempo and vicious tracks which manage to make for a mostly familiar if still blasting charge through the Swedish death metal scene that takes these cues and riffing patterns from those efforts and incorporates that same sort of melodic harmonies as well into the rhythms along the way. With these efforts likewise graced by more mid-tempo efforts that take those same stylish rhythms into several rather solid and enjoyable mid-tempo efforts that plod along with some more mid-tempo elements that slow it down and really let the grooves breathe which is all part of the traditional and usual elements found in the style. That affects the shorter tracks here significantly which manages to go for the album’s biggest detrimental factor here with this one managing to just feel too light and brief to really make an impact as it’s just over so quickly that there’s not much opportunity to really explore many variations and change-overs here with this due to the rather familiar riffing and rhythms. It’s not all that bad but it does crop up throughout here.

Though it gives itself a rather familiar and overly-stock charge that makes for a rather unoriginal effort, it’s got that ever-present and still enjoyable groove to it that easily makes this a solid-if-unremarkable choice for ardent Swedeath fanatics only while those who prefer more variety and originality should look to other practitioners first before inquiring here.

Score: 80/100

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Sunday, October 2, 2016

Vulvodynia - Psychosadistic Design

Artist: Vulvodynia
Release Title: Psychosadistic Design
Year: 2016
Label: Lacerated Enemy Records
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
1. Psychosadistic Design
2. Drowned in Vomit
3. King Emesis
4. Castration Mutilation
5. Flesh Tailor
6. Unparalleled Insubordination
7. Grotesque Schizophrenia
8. Lord of Plagues
9. Depraved Paraphilia
10. Forced Fecal Ingestion
11. Umthakathi
12. Bestial Insemination
13. Wall of Corpses

Having burst into the scene’s conscious, South African slammers Vulvodynia have managed to become one of the top acts in the style with their dynamic blend of brutal, heavy and inhumanely powerful sound which has turned them into a force to be reckoned with. Continuing to infuse more technicality into their slam, the group’s second full-length album was originally released June 30, 2016 on new-label Lacerated Enemy Records.

As has become the norm for the band, the whole exercise is built around the ultra-deep churning riffing bringing along wave after wave of pummeling slams. The ability of the band to wrap these slams around tight, squealing rhythms and deep, chugging breakdowns gives this one the stuttering, steady patterns featured commonly in deathcore-centered rhythms as the mid-tempo rhythms provide a sterling launching point to follow up on the overdose of slamming patterns. This slam-heavy approach is all given a brutal beatdown in the continued usage of frenzied, explosive technically-challenging riffing that was introduced in their last release and adds a strong dynamic to the bands’ approach by allowing the infusion of tight, frantic riffing that piles on the slams in the slower tempos while offering an alternative in the upper tempos that still manages to whip out plenty of high-impact brutality that goes along so well together. That really does leave this one with a rather enjoyable attack that’s ferocious, impactful and devastating while showcasing only a few minor issues here. They can cool it on the lame horror-film samples that nearly everyone uses in their intros and bring aboard a slightly more cohesive sense of spacing here with the album’s organization being a little shoddy, but overall there’s plenty to enjoy here.

Still quite evocative of their style and generally one of the more explosive and enjoyable efforts in the genre, there’s so much to really enjoy here that this one manages to get quite a large number of brutal death fans on it’s side as there’s plenty for those into the slam-heavy side or the more traditional practitioners alike.

Score: 94/100

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Malphas (US: II) - Malphas EP

Artist: Malphas (US: II)
Release Title: Malphas EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent (Sepulchral Silence reissue)
Genre: Black Metal
1. Wanderer of Dark Woods
2. Infernal War Hymn
3. The Necromancer
4. Devoured by the Swarm
5. Magnificent Apostasy

Taking it’s cues from the scene as a whole, Michigan-based one-man black metal project Malphas is one of two United States-based artists with the name and have taken more of a black metal approach that’s to be expected being a solo project. Finally coming to grips and producing a debut release EP, this was initially self-released July 8, 2016 before a re-issue on Sepulchral Silence July 16. 2016.

From the outset here this one is quite adept at delivering the kind of sort of sprawling old-school style mixture of black metal with a highly atmospheric design that’s highly enjoyable. With the blistering swirling tremolo rhythms accompanying the majestic mid-tempo pace and moving alongside the strong addition of deep, churning patterns that bring about a rather impressive series of deep chugging patterns that’s highly enjoyable overall here. The addition of this against the ravenous swirling riff-work creates a rather tight, up-tempo charge here alongside the rather majestic, swirling atmospheric charge layered alongside these patterns with plenty of extended sprawling sections and overlong, melodic intros that adds a rather engrossing sound as well alongside these more traditional rhythms that lets this one get the fire and intensity out alongside the majestic and melodic nature quite nicely. The fact that being a debut EP release makes this one seem a little too short at times and it’s a case where it’s so engaging and enjoyable as it is that to then have the energy cut short with it being done and over with is a little troubling, but overall there’s not much else to complain about here.

Though it’s rather short which is a shame considering it’s an EP and not really graced with enough tracks, the project is clearly an engaging one with a lot to offer that should make for an appealing venture as they continue onward and gives this release plenty to like for both the atmospheric and old-school crowds equally.

Score: 78/100

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