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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

Does it sound good? Order the reissue here:

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

Does it sound good? Order the reissue here:

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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Friday, November 25, 2016

Solitude (Jap) - Beneath the Sky

Artist: Solitude (Jap)
Release Title: Beneath the Sky
Year: 2015 (2016 reissue)
Label: Spiritual Beast (Test Your Metal Records reissue)
Genre: Traditional Heavy Metal
1. Venom's Angel
2. Blow
3. Reach for the Sky
4. Don't Need Mercy
5. Escape for the Crime
6. You Got My Mind
7. On the Edge of Sorrow
8. December

Finally reaching US shores, Japanese metallers Solitude have worked long and hard to make inroads on this side of the Pacific as they’ve managed to create quite a name for themselves in their homeland being the base label for many foreign releases in the Japanese market. While taking a nominal six-year gap between releases, the group releases their second album originally June 17, 2015 on Spiritual Beast before a US release November 25, 2016 on Test Your Metal Records.

Immediately blasting forward with an impressive charge, the group offers up a furiously intense and engaging blast of modern-sounding old-school heavy metal. The tight, crunchy riffing is the album’s greatest highlight, giving this one the fine ability to withstand a solid mid-tempo chug that gets featured throughout here or fire away on intense, nearly thrash-style rhythms such is their speed and ferocity. That, in particular, generates a raucous, energetic sheen over the whole section utilized with the efforts stylized and highly-appealing dynamics in the riffing which creates quite a fun time throughout here as the album manages to highlight quite effectively within enjoyable elements. Even when featuring thoroughly engaging work here with the explosive soloing on many of the tracks as well as the ability to dip into melodic accents to the riff-work when the group employs their mid-tempo style, the album is quite consistent and carries itself incredibly well while still being able to give itself a great sense of variety throughout here. About the only real issue here could come from the album’s raw vocal display which seems to be a much more personal issue here as on the whole it’s not terrible but the gruff style might not be all that enjoyable to some as it takes some getting used to that style in order to really enjoy it. Once it happens, though, that’s really all that really holds this one down.

A truly enjoyable and engaging blast of furious heavy metal thunder, there’s not a whole lot of really detrimental elements found here to hold this down and gives this one the overall kind of appeal awarded for fans of traditional heavy metal, Japanese variants of the style or generally ripping classic metal in general.

Score: 95/100

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Red Cain - Red Cain EP

Artist: Red Cain
Release Title: Red Cain EP
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent
Genre: Melodic/Progressive Heavy Metal
1. Guillotine
2. Dead Aeon Requiem
3. Hiraeth
4. Unborn

Born as an industrial/gothic act in 2012, Canadian heavy metallers Red Cain quickly moved away from this style into a more melodic metal act inspired by the European acts in the style following the introduction of orchestration guru William Lancaster and multi-instrumentalist Rogan McAndrews into the groups’ core ranks. With the line-up solidified and ready to go, the groups’ self-released debut EP was originally released November 25, 2016.

From the outset, the band sets up a rather intriguing mix of molten progressive rhythms and tons of charging melodic rhythms that make for quite an intriguing and enjoyable time here. There’s plenty of incredibly fun and enjoyable riff-work here with the main focus on driving progressive rhythms that contain plenty of challenging patterns skillfully interwoven with bright melodic outbursts, featuring plenty of tough rumbling underlying rhythms and a sense blend of dynamics throughout here with the intervening symphonic orchestrations providing this one with the backbone upon which the fiery mid-tempo grooves produced by the progressive-tinged riff-work balances out quite nicely. It works as a fine set-up for the bands’ proper introduction here with this one really exploring all facets of their work quite nicely, and with the lengthy tracks allowing for these to come through it gives off quite an impressive feel and tone throughout here though the band still employs one minor piece that does come out here. There’s quite ample evidence here that the group is much more comfortable and able in the stronger, more vibrant sections of their sound and really haven’t tackled the slower, more dragging tempos yet as these are much more of pain to get through when the band stops and attempts to go for the plodding sections that just drag on endlessly and stretching this one out more than it really should, and even this isn’t that bad due to being a debut offering here. Otherwise, there’s not much to dislike here.

With only a minor stumbling block and not even that detrimental of one anyway, the album’s much greater enjoyable factors here with the stronger sense of melodies interwoven with progressive rhythms make this one quite a worthwhile and appealing act to watch for fans of melodic or progressive heavy metal.

Score: 85/100

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Violblast - Conflict

Artist: Violblast
Release Title: Conflict
Year: 2016
Label: Suspiria Records
Genre: Thrash Metal
1. Deep into Darkness
2. Conflict
3. Wielders of Fear
4. Sings of a Murder
5. Invisible Death
6. Reprisal
7. Paths of Aggression
8. Bearing Witness
9. Individuality

Formed as Betrayer in 2012, Spanish thrashers Violblast quickly adopted their current moniker in order to perform quite vicious and intense thrash throughout their homeland which enabled them to hone their craft into a debut EP release. After several years of promoting that release, the group finally prepares their full-length debut November 25, 2016 on Suspiria Records.

From the start, this here comes off as a tight, ravenous and fully ferocious offering with plenty of truly thunderous and vicious thrash on display. Employing a far more tight and modern form of the style here with a slight old-school bent, this one goes for the ravenous approach in it’s riff-work with great results here with the crunchy patterns clearly putting this one in the thrash realm keeping this one flying along at truly explosive rhythms due to the high-flying speed on display. That offers the highest value here within this one as the album just flies along quite ably diving into tight thrash patterns in the riff-work while utilizing a series of straightforward arrangements to carry this along while still managing to get a large amount of work out of the occasional use of classic thrash-era arrangements which adds an extra dose of chaos to the proceedings by balancing up the truly ravenous sections against more controlled and refined segments which makes for a truly enjoyable thrashing experience. The main minor stumbling block here comes from the album’s tightly-wound riffing structure which doesn’t really let the album breathe all that often and causes it to zoom by way too quickly here as there’s not a whole lot of really lengthy pieces here. That could’ve given the riffing the space to really work wonders had it just been stretched out by a few minutes overall with a couple extra moments on each track to really give this one the opportunity to really enjoy the fruits of its labor, which can be a factor to explore in the future.

Managing on a few minor problems that really could be worked out in their future work, this ends up being quite the enjoyable and explosive ravenous thrash album with some old-school influences that works incredibly well for those that enjoy this more intense side of the genre or want something more than just another Bay-Area ripoff.

Score: 91/100

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Bloodride - Planet Alcatraz

Artist: Bloodride
Release Title: Planet Alcatraz
Year: 2016
Label: Inverse Records
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. S.O.B.
2. Planet Alcatraz
3. War in Me
4. Beyond Repair
5. All We Deserve
6. Baptizing Demons
7. Grave Is Calling
8. Rat Racer
9. Storm Under My Skin
10. Marching Off to War

Continuing to rule in the old-school, Finnish thrashers Bloodride has steadily gained their style and approach quite readily throughout the years while taking their influences into a rather fearsome, ferocious assault. Keeping their consistency intact once again throughout their sound, the group’s third full-length effort was initially released November 25, 2016 on Inverse Records.

From the beginning notes this here is quite apparently a rather ferocious and charging blend of old-school riffing with a more vicious, modernized bite. There’s a great deal of old-school influence here in the riffing which takes that predominantly crunchy up-tempo style into the majority of the album’s paces and creates some rather frantic and finely-stylized thrashing patterns here. Likewise, this approach is styled nicely alongside a more vicious tactic of whipping up groove-styled rhythms and patterns in the riffing and coupling that with some deep churning death metal-styled patterns for a rather impressive blast of extremity against the more vicious attack. This is quite a fun attack though it tends to end up giving this one a rather troubling nature of not really being able to realize it’s true potential by keeping it wildly veering between the more ravenous old-school approach as well as the more deeply-churning energies that aren’t that well-constructed and keeps this off-balance throughout here. It’s enjoyable enough as it is, but the manner of making all their elements coming together into a coherent whole is a slight misstep.

There’s some troubling nature here with the rather troublesome writing that doesn’t generate the kind of consistently-coherent feel that the material really requires of it, though the fact that it’s still got enough enjoyable elements makes for a somewhat straightforward appeal to the most devout old-school thrasher fanatics only.

Score: 80/100

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Veldraveth - Malformations of God

Artist: Veldraveth
Release Title: Malformations of God
Year: 2016
Label: Evil's Records/Satanath Records
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. Yetzer Ha'ra
2. In Chaos Born
3. Malformations of God
4. In Terms of Violence
5. Ominous Omen
6. No Place for God
7. Thunderstorms
8. No Return
9. Murder
10. Zyklon-B in Conclave

Coming up through the ranks, Venezuelan black metallers Veldraveth have taken a long, winding road from their start back in the early 2000s as they’ve brought more ravenous and devastating material that furthers their deadly attack even further. Taking their time to get the release right with a lengthy six-year break from albums, the trio’s third full-length album was originally released March 26, 2016 in a co-release from Satanath Records and Evil’s Records.

Marching along with impunity, the group offers a wholly caustic and explosive old-school style attack that charges along with quite a devastating tone. Led by the tremolo-based riff-work that carries this one along into tight, frantic set-ups that offer straightforward, simplistic tones without really deviating much from this basic framework, offering up the kind of darkened bouts of fury that’s wholly engaging here when the band is clearly in their furious stages. Balanced out by a series of mid-tempo sprawling patterns that act as buffer-sections that are kept to a minimum throughout here rather than being placed at the forefront of the album and a series of challenging, intricately-designed epics that bring forth more stylized tremolo-picked patterns as well as charging thrash-influenced segments that add a dynamic sense of chaos to the proceedings, overall this is a furious if slightly familiar attack while becomes the albums’ main failing point here. However enjoyable the blasting chaos and furious intensity derived from the riff-work may be, there’s still the overriding sense of being far too close to the source material to really generate the kind of creativity featured here that allows this one to stick out here as this one tends to feel way too similar to dozens of other acts in the genre playing this particular style and it really does lower this one slightly.

While there’s still plenty of highly enjoyable elements found here that makes for a truly enjoyable, vicious and intense black metal album, the few flaws present here are enough to placate those enough here to leave this one more for those who prefer the South American style of black metal or prefer the more intense stylings in the genre.

Score: 87/100

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Antimateria - Valo aikojen takaa

Artist: Antimateria
Release Title: Valo aikojen takaa
Year: 2016
Label: Purity Through Fire Records
Genre: Atmospheric Black Metal
1. Intro
2. Sieltä mistä valokaan ei milloinkaan karkaa
3. Tieni kohti lopullista tuhoa
4. Roihuten läpi yötaivaan
5. Kun aukeaa mysteerit kuoleman
6. Kadoten merien hautaan
7. Valo aikojen takaa

Emerging from the bowels of the genre, Finnish one-man atmospheric black metal project Antimateria has quickly gathered themselves into a force within the genre as main man Ahma has turned the project into a beast of celestial black metal magic. Quickly coming out with the projects’ first proper piece of recording, the debut full-length was originally released September 1, 2016 on Purity Through Fire Records.

From the start, it’s quite clear here that there’s a strong and profound sense of raw, celestial-worshipping black metal at hand. From the tight, churning riff-work that takes the simplistic tremolo-style series of patterns and merges them with a strong series of light keyboard work to really get this one going here. Even with the raw, gravelly production it’s still possible to discern the warm, lush atmospheric melodies swirling around throughout here which comes from the simplistic riff-work and rumbling rhythm section charging away in the background which manages to make for quite a stylistic contrast to the rest of the album here with this one really generating the kind of light, serene atmosphere that plainly keeps this in the genre for the majority of the running time. Given the fact that the extended, generous lengths of the tracks for the most part here, the ability to really let the melodies sink in and create the haunting atmosphere possible this really manages to make this hold up much more than expected with the melodies and rhythms coming together quite nicely, but the fact that the album’s thick, gravelly production style becomes the main problem here as this tends to reduce the type of variety and dexterity found within the riff-work and gives it a much too apparent sense of solidarity with the songs sounding much too similar and familiar to each other. The album comes off like a rather straightforward blur of simplistic riffing and driving-but-familiar drumming that manages to hold the atmospheric keyboards in check throughout here which doesn’t really detract it as much as expected.

Despite losing some of its power here with the thick, raw production featured here, the fact that there’s still a lot to enjoy here with the extended, atmospheric sections at play here really tends to give this one a big bump and makes this one work rather well for fans of this type of simplified atmospheric black metal.

Score: 89/100

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Defiatory - Extinct

Artist: Defiatory
Release Title: Extinct
Year: 2016
Label: Black Lion Productions
Genre: Retro Thrash Metal
1. The Final Conflict
2. Reaper
3. Aeons End
4. Dogs of War
5. Extinct
6. Destiny
7. The Black Vortex
8. Furor Unleashed

Coming together in 2015, Swedish thrashers Defiatory have quickly settled into a groove of old-school thrash worship that has taken the bands’ love of the genre to it’s fullest with the group quickly finding their full material quickly enough in their career. With the group appearing as a supergroup of the Swedish death metal scene, the group’s debut release was originally released June 3, 2016 on Black Lion Records.

Almost immediately here it becomes apparent that the band is clearly adept at displaying the kind of old school-fueled burst of Bay Area-styled revivalist thrash in grand order. The tight, crunchy patterns and full-throttle riff-work at the center of the music here gives this a generously furious up-tempo thrash-inspired blast of fiery thrash, and with the album going for the generally dexterous leads and straightforward energy there’s plenty of old-school nods throughout the album. Though the album doesn’t generate the kind of variety in their rhythms that effectively recalls that scene to it’s fullest, the riffing patterns utilized here are much more in league with that and really manages to  employ the distinctive crunch barreling along throughout here which is mostly due to the far more vicious and intense patterns featured which give this a far more modern and dynamic effort here which makes the rampaging material quite enjoyable and intense. Though this works quite nicely in generating fiery, frantic material it also causes this to slip into one-dimensional thrashing for the most part here, never really offering up much of anything beyond just admittedly-crushing material without really changing it around and providing any kind of variety. There’s a few spots scattered here but for the most part that lack of real dynamic or varied material does come across here, and although there’s some leeway given here due to being a debut it’s the one issue to be found here.

With only a few minor quibbles to be found here due to being a debut album which doesn’t really hold it back all too much, this here comes off as absolutely enjoyable and vicious modern-sounding revival thrash that will undoubtedly appeal to fans of that side of the spectrum or simply intense thrash in general.

Score: 91/100

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Fatalist - The Bitter End

Artist: Fatalist
Release Title: The Bitter End
Year: 2016
Label: F.D.A. Rekotz
Genre: Swedish Death Metal
1. Aberration
2. Bloodfest
3. Coloured Red
4. Devoured
5. Fear of Death
6. A Hollowed Shell of the Body
7. In Diluted Thoughts
8. Suicidal Aftermath
9. Symphony of Chaos
10. The Bitter End
11. Tortured Existence

Initially appearing in the mid-2000s, California death metallers Fatalist quickly gained notoriety for their sincere and dedicated approach to the Swedish variant of death metal before a disbanding before a rebirth two years later that sees the band back and tighter than ever. Being the first recorded output for drummer Griffin Figueroa after Tyler Castro left following the reactivation of the project, their long-awaited true full-length debut is released September 23, 2016 on F.D.A. Rekotz.

It’d be hard-pressed to believe this wasn’t a group of Stockholm-centered youths emerging from the early-90s scene here such is the powerful and utterly unrepentant approach this takes with the Swedeath scene. This goes for the ever-present and familiar churning riff-work that contains those loud and proud swirling patterns and charging rhythms that were commonplace in that initial scene, buzzing away with abandon while the ferocious riffing keeps this one moving forward at a grand pace. Likewise, there’s also the genre’s prototypical mid-tempo efforts that let the pace down in favor of sprawling riff-work and more prominent melodic work which gives these efforts much more of a variety compared to the type of work found elsewhere here as the most ferocious tracks here are much more prominent throughout here. Granted, this here is all to be expected to be a part of this one with the band playing so closely to the genre’s heyday that there’s not much of a surprise here in many of these tracks. It’s all too familiar and goes through too many of the scenes’ cliches that there’s not much of a real identity to the band here with them playing with these tracks in such an approach, even though there’s a competence level to the material that does make for a somewhat more appealing time here than would be expected. Still, it’s an issue that does occur here and holds it back somewhat.

Even though it’s so obviously a part of the same scene as dozens of different bands here and that nothing here is all that different from those groups, this one still carries enough of a positive charge here that this is a fine choice for the most diehard and ardent Swedeath follower while those looking for more impactful work should look elsewhere.

Score: 82/100

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Monday, November 21, 2016

Barrow Wight - Kings in Sauron's Service

Artist: Barrow Wight
Release Title: Kings in Sauron's Service
Year: 2016
Label: Heavy Chains Records
Genre: Heavy Metal
1. Intro
2. No Sleep till Gondor
3. Osgiliath
4. The Cult
5. Grond
6. Knights in Saurons Service
7. In League with Sauron
8. Dwimmerlaik
9. Harrower of the Dark
10. The Palantir

Founded in 2006 by high-school friends, Canadian metallers Barrow Wight have quickly taken the band’s sound to a venom-charged, reverb-fuelled heavy metal punk nightmare through the years as they’ve refined and honed their sound. With two years of work touring and preparing material having secured a stable line-up comprised of Antero on vocals/bass, Akiva on guitar, and Ace on drums, the group prepares their debut effort September 30, 2016 on Heavy Chains Records.

As evidenced by their thematic imagery, the group is quite clearly at home employing fantasy-style work here to their simplistic dirty heavy metal style. The riff-work takes plenty of cues from straightforward punk-laced early traditional metal as the chug-heavy rhythms and unvarying style make for a rather simplistic style of attack while being augmented by rumbling bass-lines and pounding, straightforward drumming that doesn’t deviate from the norm all that much, keeping this one solely one-note throughout here in terms of presenting rocking, high-energy punk rhythms within simplistic heavy metal. As that becomes the most prominent aspect of this one, though, that leaves the album so simplistic and single-minded that it really does this a disservice by simply offering only slight tempo deviations for any kind of variety and on the whole there’s just not a whole lot of really engaging material here once it lets the tricks of the trade be presented. There’s not a whole lot really wrong with this attack, which does come off rather nicely here due to the influx of rumbling heavy metal and fiery riff-work throughout the album, but it’s just way too simplistic to really count with the short and to-the-point running time of the majority of the tracks certainly not doing that any favors, though this here does get a slight pass for not only being a debut release from the group and a chance to rework that could be highly beneficial in the future.

Though there’s some solid work at times here, the fact that there’s just not all that much work here that really brings this one up from the mediocre realm ends up causing this one to mostly appeal to die-hard fans of the dirty rocking style or those that really enjoy the other facets of the band on display throughout here.

Score: 80/100

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Unendlich - Scales of Existence

Artist: Unendlich
Release Title: Scales of Existence
Year: 2016
Label: Horror Pain Gore Death Productions
Genre: Old-School Black Metal
1. When It's Too Late
2. Parasadistic
3. Transparent Man
4. I Despair
5. Way of All Flesh
6. Dethroned
7. Exsanguination
8. Destroyer
9. Rearranged to Be Broken
10. Pillars of Decay

Taking their sound to greater heights, Baltimore-based one-man black metal project Unendlich carries on their namesake meaning as multi-instrumentalist Michael Connors Jr. explores the nihilistic experience that forms through their unending assault. Taking a two-year gap between albums to fully unleash the ravenous energies within, the sophomore full-length effort was originally released October 29, 2016 on Horror Pain Gore Death Productions.

As was predominantly part of their previous work, the vast majority of the album transcends traditionally-flavored black metal with the basic formula of attack. Built around swirling, fiery tremolo-picked riffing and traditional European-accented rhythms that make this one stay in remarkably consistent paces and tempos for the most part, it’s all a rather fine and frantic series of composed chaos here. The riffing comes straight from that stylistic hand-book of attack and really generates the kind of aesthetic which keeps this one galloping along with this series of competent, professionally-driven charges here with the ability to accent these with snippets of melody that give this a decidedly apparent balance. That works nicely here for the album with this one able to retain a strong overall consistent vibe of bleak, blistering old-school riffing that keeps the attack simple and straightforward with their riff-work handling this approach in a consistent manner. On the whole, this is rather fun and intriguing, though it does have the distinction of highlighting the fact that this one doesn’t really offer up much of any big distinguishing factors here as this one simply offers up melodically-tinged old-school black metal which is competently played but that’s about it. On that rare occasion, it features some memorable riff-patterns but that’s not as constant throughout here which is a disappointment since when it does this scores mightily.

Though it does strike with a powerful, competently-played approach for the most part, it’s not as consistently devastating in it’s attack to really score into the upper echelon it easily could’ve which in the end does lower it slightly but not enough to make for a wholly enjoyable assault for any fan of this particular style of black metal.

Score: 93/100

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Heavydeath - In Circles We Die

Artist: Heavydeath
Release Title: In Circles We Die
Year: 2016
Label: Self-Released/Independent (Aftermath Music)
Genre: Old-School Doom/Death Metal
1. As We Foretold
2. Slumbering Monolith
3. Bleak Future
4. In Circles We Die
5. The Few Remains
6. Rope of Emptiness
7. Into Death's Black Void
8. The Fallen One

Continuing to expand on their sound, Swedish doom/death metal supergroup Heavydeath have taken their years of experience and brought about a rather pronounced and highly effective ode to the old-school sounds of their homeland. With the power-trio wasting no time in ushering a slew of releases, their second full-length effort was digitally-released independently November 1, 2016 before a CD reissue November 4, 2016 on Aftermath Music.

As is to be expected here from the sound of the album, the main focus here is on the crushing doom atmosphere throughout here which makes for quite a fun time. Featuring plenty of monolithic rhythms, loaded with that filthy sludgy sprawl typically associated with the style with the low-slung, barely-moving rhythms keeping this one locked tight in the rhythms throughout here as this one tends to opt for the classic dredging tempos without any real change in the matter which lets the deep, churning riff-work come to a nice head here that lets this one adopt a more ferocious atmosphere during these sections with the lurching tempos letting the riffing come to a more deep and churning centerpiece. This results in some rather fun and engaging pieces at times and is certainly a major part of the album’s success while also managing to highlight one of it’s few minor flaws in the fact that it really does feel it’s weighty presence at times. The slow, dragging tempos are rife with atmosphere, but at the same time completely opening up the album’s running time with the fact that this one really contains quite lengthy tracks that simply plod along lifelessly with barely any energy or weight behind them as the riffing descends into dull noodling as the drumming becomes limp and lifeless doling out the tracks as this is so prominent in the later half there’s little about it that remains as effective as the first half. That part is what makes the album as good as it is.

Though it runs afoul of itself slightly in the later half, there’s still more than enough quality and consistent material to be found throughout here that this one becomes quite a fine and worthwhile release for fans of the musicians involved in the project or appreciate this style of slow, plodding old-school death-influenced doom metal.

Score: 85/100

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Stench Price - Stench Price

Artist: Stench Price
Release Title: Stench Price
Year: 2016
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Genre: Avant-Garde Grindcore
1. Living Fumes
2. Furnaces Burn
3. Pressure
4. 4.27.15
5. The Genocide Machine
6. The Vitality Slip

Forming quite recently, international grindcore supergroup Stench Price came through the tireless work masterminded by unconventional Siberian metal eccentric Peter G. Shallmin to become quite an eclectic and unconventional work. Joined by a cadre of guest musicians equally as impressive as the main group, the bands’ self-titled debut was released November 30, 2016 on Transcending Obscurity Records.

Despite the concurrent influence throughout here of rabid traditionally-minded grindcore, what becomes immediately noticeable about the album is the wealth of influences peppered throughout here. Ranging from offbeat and disjointed rhythms that contain quite a wealth of jangled patterns here that become even further into the off-kilter realm by including interludes featuring laid-back lounge rock or glittery bossa-nova sounds. These come off incredibly well-done and create quite an eclectic mix of influences throughout here merging the seemingly disparate elements into a cohesive whole which manages to flow into a tight whole with the ravenous grind aesthetics blaring away in the background with the surgical riff-work and tight, pounding rhythms make for a rather frantic charge that manages to come off quite enjoyable and can still please the ardent grind fans while throwing enough adventurous elements together to create a wholly engrossing experience. The only element that really holds this one back is the fact that there’s just no real narrative feel throughout here by constantly switching up the vocalists for each track which creates such a wildly inconsistent tone and feel that it’s more distracting than the music itself which is quite a feat. Managing to rearrange their music to fit the typical work of their guests is a big mistake overall here and doesn’t really work as the shifts in tone and dynamics become quite apparent that they’re trying to fit these different genres together to match the work of their guests and it doesn’t lead to a cohesive sound at all. Still, that might not be too much of an issue for some and will be able to overlook this one quite easily.

One of the more impressive and wholly original works of art in the genre, a rare feat in itself but to then mix the originality into actually entertaining music makes for an easy recommendation for those who can overlook the minor flaws present and are fans of the creative side involved in the project or those that want a little something different in their extreme metal.

Score: 93/100

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Fetid Zombie - Epicedia

Artist: Fetid Zombie
Release Title: Epicedia
Year: 2016
Label: Transcending Obscurity Records
Genre: Old-School Death Metal
1. Lowered Beneath
2. Devour the Virtuous
3. Devour the Innocent
4. If the Dead Could Speak

One of the undergrounds’ more creative entities, Virginia-based death metal project Fetid Zombie were created to explore main man Mark Riddick’s boundless enthusiasm for the dark and decrepit spirit of the old-school variety. Following up the endless amount of split releases throughout the year, the project’s sixth full-length release of original material was released November 25, 2016 on Transcending Obscurity Records.

Still hailing true to the underground spirit of the material, for the most part this mostly sticks straight on with the rampant style featured in the past catalog. Running through the same typically simplistic rhythms and variations that were found before, there’s plenty of tight, straightforward basement-dwelling material found in here which allows this one to readily generate dark, swampy rhythms that carry on through more advanced and dynamic structures here with the album’s admittedly-impressive attempts at deriving an epic attitude throughout here which comes off rather nicely with the swirling epic rhythms leaving this one quite enjoyable. With the ability to adopt lengthy, roundabout melodies full of epic splendor or deep, churning riff-work full of that predominantly old-school material. Though the band is quite enjoyable and certainly manages to get quite a lot of impressive work here, the main factor holding this one down is quite apparent from the start here in that the overlong tracks trailing off into rather bland realms merely to get things up to the epic lengths featuring these swirling riffs which just don’t seem to go anywhere. Much like his nominal work in the past, this would’ve been far more enjoyable and engaging at a more reasonable style and tempo, even though there’s not all that many other elements that hold this one back.

It gets a touch too long in the tooth for itself a few times throughout here, but that doesn’t stop the fact that this is still a highly enjoyable and engaging blast of furious old-school inspired death metal that offers a high quality for those that are fans of his previous efforts or aficionados of old-school death metal in general.

Score: 90/100

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Ctulu - Ctulu

Artist: Ctulu
Release Title: Ctulu
Year: 2016
Label: MDD Records
Genre: Black Metal
1. Serce krwawe
2. Treibjagd
3. Totenhauswind
4. Rozgoryczona, rozczarowana, gotowa na wszystko
5. Heerführer der Herre
6. Dämmerung
7. Von Mondeswächtern und Menschverächtern
8. Die Arkadaden von R'lyeh

Exploiting their sound even further, German black metallers Ctulu have exploited their dark, depraved sound even further with responses from their previous releases fueling their fire on the new album. With the three-year gap between releases seeing former session drummer Infernal Devastator becoming their full-time drummer, their fourth releases was originally released November 18, 2016 on MDD Records.

For the most part throughout this one it manages to really delve quite nicely through it’s rather tight and frantic settings while featuring plenty of utterly enjoyable work here. There’s a strong elegant simplicity to the album, using a strong series of straightforward riff-work that aggressively switches from swirling tremolo leads to find ravenous thrashing quite often throughout here which makes for a rousing and truly energetic offering which is from the fine mixture here with these coming together into this furious whole. Alongside the energetic offerings, the bands’ trademark slow, deep crawl is still present with the group displaying the same fine mid-tempo chugging series of rhythms here which manage to counterbalance the aggression so well here that when these extended segments come together there’s a fine sense of enhanced energy found in them that it creates a fine counterbalance that comes off in great harmony to the fiery intensity featured much more prominently. This whole approach is very nicely accomplished here with the album generating quite a lot of strong riff-work and rhythms here, and the fact that the album does feel quite a bit shorter than previous efforts does make itself known here as the album’s lone flaw. There’s not a great deal of work within this one that really captures the gravitas and epic feeling of many of their previous albums which makes it feel the shorter running time quite easily with only a few tracks overall and not many of them containing the multi-faceted sections so prominent in their work highlighting this facet even moreso than usual. Otherwise there’s not a whole lot else really wrong here.

Though it’s not quite as grand and twisting in it’s rhythms as many of their other work out there, this one is still such a fine and enjoyable release with so much more positive to overwhelm and outweigh the negatives that this serves as a fine offering for their fans or those into extreme metal as a whole.

Score: 91/100

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Blasphemer (It) - Ritual Theophagy

Artist: Blasphemer (It)
Release Title: Ritual Theophagy
Year: 2016
Label: Comatose Music
Genre: Brutal Death Metal
1. Suicide for Satan
2. You Are Nothing
3. Jesus Rapes
4. Worship in the Void
5. Antichristian Extremism
6. Annihilated Divinity
7. Obscuring the Holy Light
8. Crucifix of Shit (Stench of Prophet)
9. Fetishistic Idolatry of the Cross
10. I Deny
11. Ritual Theophagy

Furthering their finely-honed style, Italian brutal death metallers Blasphemer have carried along their style nicely throughout their career which continues into their newest release with a blistering onslaught of their traditional sound. With an eight-year release gap that introduces Darren Cesca as the new drummer, the second full-length album was released October 14, 2016 on Comatose Music.

Much like their previous works, this one tends to rattle along with traditional brutal death-flavored material that makes for a wholly frantic attack. Featuring flaying riff-work with tight, short patterns and impossibly blistering tempos within their sharply-honed rhythms that strike with jagged precision and frantic speed, there’s a prominently-displayed attack here which is quite fun overall here at delivering the blisteringly brutal rhythms. These are made all the better with their startlingly up-tempo and frantic speeds, as the fact that there’s very little deviation here with a few offerings of more technically-challenging series of riffing that turns their tempos into a slightly more plodding pace that still packs in plenty of charging riff-work within their twisting rhythms. While these here are quite an impressive overall display of attack, there’s a few minor problems throughout here. The album as a whole is quite one-sided and doesn’t really strike itself all that well here with the rather familiar attack that runs itself into the ground here. Running through the same general riffing patterns and arrangements here makes this one a really predictable affair here quite early on, and it’s not really helped all that much with the other minor facet striking this one in it’s too-short length. Only one track here is longer than three minutes and most are kept well under that length which never really allows this a chance to really adapt any kind of identifiable march of signature attack here which is a slight issue to contend with. While the overall attack makes for plenty to like, it gets old rather quickly.

Though it’s really fun in places and does have some enjoyable elements, far too much of this one is caught up in keeping itself tied to that one impressive charge that it really loses itself here once there’s been enough exposure to this one which really leaves this one strictly for the most devout and hardcore brutal death enthusiastic.

Score: 79/100

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